In this video and article, we share our “10 Secrets to Exceptional Presentations” to help you avoid Death by PowerPoint.

#1. Start With the Outcome in Mind

Start your exceptional presentations by having a clearly defined outcome for the presentation in your mind.

This will help you create a more highly focused presentation. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do you want your audience to learn?
  • How do you want them to feel?
  • What action do you want them to take after the presentation?

By starting with this outcome and these questions, you can build your presentation to create the desired outcome. You can design your exceptional presentations to take people step-by-step on a journey to what you want them to learn, how you want them to feel and to the action you want them to take.

#2. Know Your Audience

Exceptional Presentations - Know Your AudienceIf you don’t know your audience well, then you’re not going to be giving them what you want and your presentation runs the risk of not really being relevant to them. To know your audience you need to know why are they coming to your presentation and what questions they hope you will answer.

A great tool to determine what questions people have about a topic is Answer the Public.

You just go to the Answer the Public website and enter your topic keyword. In a short time, Answer the Public comes up with a very cool mapping system which gives you a huge number of questions that people are asking around your keyword. I often build my presentations around the questions provided by Answer the Public or use the tool to determine ideas for new exceptional presentations.

#3. The Power of Your Message

  • How powerful is your message?
  • What is your point?
  • Why does your message matter to this audience?

Think of yourself as a storyteller.

Storytelling is a long and proud tradition. Stories are much more powerful than just telling people information or tips. A real-life story has a huge impact and is more authentic. People can sense when you’re trying to snow them and when you’re just trying to convince them of something. Instead be real –  be authentic.

#4. High Impact Graphics for Exceptional Presentations

People are very visual. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Use powerful high-impact graphics in your presentation to illustrate your points. Here are some options for high impact graphics:

  • Stock Photos
  • Real Pictures
  • Illustrations

Exceptional presentations use exceptional graphics.

You can start by using stock photos as they are high impact, high-resolution, easy to find and low-cost. Stock photos can certainly be used to set a mood or add graphic impact to your point.

Give some consideration to using real photos instead of stock photos. These real photos can be taken by yourself, your team or an outside photographer. While a picture taken by you or your team may not be as pretty as professionally taken stock photos,  in many cases people will connect to real photos more because they’re real. If you are going to be promoting at a charity and you had real-life photos of people you’re helping such as homeless people in a city or children in Africa, real photos along with real stories are going to have a much higher impact than a generic stock photo would.

Illustrations are graphic images made to show your point. They can be cartoon style, drawing, infographics or a wide range of other, non-picture graphic types. Illustrations can be more expensive but you can have custom illustrations made that are custom tailored to illustrate what you want to show.

#5. Limit Bullet Point Slides

Exceptional presentations secret number five is to limit the bullet point slides. You want to avoid those walls of bullet point text.

Instead what you want is short simple text with high-impact graphics and illustrations for each point.

#6. Make Emotional Connections

You know, maybe you’re giving great information but what you NEED to do is to tug at your audience’s heartstrings. Share inspiring stories, share the mistakes you’ve made. Real stories and mistakes make it more real and people can connect better when you give them a good emotional reason to connect with you.

#7. Make Your Exceptional Presentations Dynamic

Is your presentation static? Here are some ways to make it dynamic.

If you’re showing data make sure the data is up-to-date. You can do this by connecting your slides that include numbers, tables, and charts with the latest real-time data using our DataPoint tool.

Another way to make your presentation dynamic is to showing real-time tweets of your event using the same tool.

Here are some other dynamic presentation ideas:

  • Polling your audience in real time and showing results
  • Live sales numbers
  • Other live numbers updates.

Imagine you were doing a session on how many people are dying of a certain disease. You can actually have that number updating on the screen while you’re presenting. It is really powerful if every moment or two that number refreshes and suddenly your audience realizes that in the last 10 minutes you’ve been talking that ten more people have died of that disease.

#8. Create Separate Handouts

If your slides are done well in their high-impact graphic format with really short text they’re not that useful as handouts. Your slides are really more of a visual add-on to the presenter. Instead make a useful handout that attendees can actually follow, something like a checklist or an illustration of the process or a how-to.

#9. Know Your Venue

This is a key factor in presentations. I’ve had many times where I show up and I look at the venue and I go “Oh no, there are problems here. Not everybody’s gonna be able to see me as there are some bad lines of sight.”

One time I was presenting with two large screens either side of me showing my PowerPoint presentation and a really spread out audience in front of me. So how do you make eye contact as many people? Knowing this problem ahead of time helped me develop strategies to deal with the problem instead of scrambling to find solutions on the fly which I would have had to do if I hadn’t visited the room a couple of hours ahead of time.

If possible at the venue, you also want to test all your technology. Test your presenting laptop, make sure your presentation loads and has all the slides. Make sure your audio is fully working. If you need Internet, make sure you can connect and it is working well with minimal lag (some venues have poor Internet in some rooms).

Have a back-up plan for technical problems as well. Whenever I present I make sure that even if I couldn’t get any of the technology working, no computer screens, no Internet or anything else, that I could still do a good presentation.

#10. Be a Great Presenter

The final tip is to be a great presenter.

How do you be a great presenter? Part of it is to practice. Even when I have a workshop I’ve taught so many times I’m sure I could teach it in my sleep I still run through and I still practice it a number of times beforehand. The benefit of this extra practice is that I keep refining my presentation and how I present it.

With more practice I find the awkward spots, I find spelling errors, I find mistakes, I find points that aren’t really clear.

Deliver your presentation with enthusiasm and passion.

I was watching one video online of a presenter and the presenter had really good information but they made a lot of the common inexperienced presenter mistakes such as saying “um” a lot and other things like that. As a professional presenter myself I really noticed these and usually they drive me nuts, but this presenter was so enthusiastic, so passionate, so authentic and had such good content that I found myself just enjoying the presentation anyway, even though I could find all these technical flaws that usually would impact my enjoyment.

Be very cautious when you’re presenting using humor. Different cultures can react to the kinds of jokes in different ways. Avoid off-color jokes, political issues, or anything that might be taken as racist or sexist. These are just landmines waiting to go off that can affect your reputation for years.

The kind of humor that works well is self-deprecating humor. Poke fun at yourself. Poking fun at yourself shows you have a good sense of humor and it makes you more relatable and authentic. When you point out mistakes you’ve made, funny things you’ve done and weird things that happened to you, this works better for humor.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this 10 Secrets to Exceptional Presentations article and video. If you found it useful have please share it with others through social media and email.

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