5 Strategies to Create a Killer Presentation

No one wants to be the presenter who is boring their audience to death, and no one wants to sit through another painful PowerPoint presentation that just doesn’t seem to end.

You can engage your audience and have a little fun by taking the right approach to planning, presenting, and using the tools around you. The good news is that it isn’t nearly as hard as you think, even if public speaking isn’t your favorite thing.

So, let’s jump right into 5 tips and strategies that will make your presentation easier to give and lot more fun to hear.

1) Frame Your Message

Whether you’re a fan of TED Talks or just like to share funny stories with guys at the bar, setting the stage for your story is the best way to get people to listen. If you set up your entire presentation as a journey, you give people something to follow and to relate to their own experiences.

The Harvard Business Review says your framework should introduce your topic quickly, explain why you care about the topic, and work to convince your audience that they should care too.

2) Pause and Ask Questions

Presentations only work if your audience is engaged and understands what you’re saying. The best way to periodically check that is to stop, pause a moment, and then ask if anyone has questions. For sales meetings and presentations, this gives you a chance to see how interested your audience is and try a new tactic if you’re losing them.

This is my favorite tip from Christina DesMarais’s Inc. article, which is definitely worth a read.

3) Use Your Hands

Whether it’s gestures or writing on the board, using your hands makes your audience pay attention. Hand movements are so important that research from TED Talks says talking with your hands is one of the five nonverbal things you have to do to make a presentation go viral.

A variety of hand gestures from Larry Lessig’s TEDxVilnius talk. Photo credit: Jurga Anusauskiene & TED.com

The biggest takeaway is that you don’t even need to know what you’re doing: “hand gestures — even nonsensical ones — make you seem more charismatic.” Gestures and writing give your audience something to do beyond just listening, so they’re engaged twice.

4) Include Clear Statistics

Establish credibility quickly by letting others make your point for you. Research and statistics instantly reinforce your point. Motivational speaking expert Justin Sachs suggests mixing outside research with your own internal statistics for maximum effect, in this great piece.

5) Define the Single Most Important Idea

The late Anita Roddick is still having an impact on today’s speakers because she had a style that’s hard to emulate and even harder to forget. She cut out all the fluff in her slides and presentations by having just one word on the screen or writing board during each part of her presentation.

No distractions, no clutter, just a simple style that made everyone sit up and pay attention to what she was saying because it was easy to see how it all related back to a single, solitary idea. Read more about the impact of her style from Glenn Leibowitz, who can still recall clearly a presentation Roddick gave in the mid-1990s.

And there you are, five of the best tips you can use to knock your next presentation out of the park. It’s probably a lot easier than you thought it’d be, and it’ll give you a nice confidence boost next time you face down a crowd.

I want to wish you the best of luck in your next presentation!