Think back to the presentations you gave in high school. If you’re anything like me, they probably looked something like this. Worse, you thought you were fancy because of the gradient background and sophisticated photo of Freud.
Fast forward four years and my design skills are largely the same. InDesign causes me anxiety. Fonts intimidate me. And, I avoid special effects like the plague.
Many of us fear creating presentations because we aren’t designers. Nadine Hanafi, Founder of presentation design agency We Are Visual, is out to fix that with her new book, Slide Therapy: a how-to guide for designing presentations that leave an impact.
These are some of the core tips she highlighted in her episode of 33founders to put you in charge of your next presentation.
Step one is to distill your message.
According to Nadine, the “biggest part of our work is destructive not creative.”
Studies show that our brains can only process four to five topics at once. We do best with three or four, making it crucial to center your presentation on a single goal and not veer from it.
Try these strategies to strip away unnecessary facts:
- Clearly define your goal and supporting points. It’s optimal to have between two to three core topics for your audience to remember.
- Funnel each insight you’d like to include by asking: Does this fact contribute to my core goal? If it doesn’t – Leave it out.
- Memorable presentations can be summed up with a tweetable – 140 characters or less. Use this framework to create a compelling description of your work.
- Telling a visual story is not only crucial to garnering your audience’s attention it enables you to remove unnecessary and distracting information. If you can depict your point with a photo, chart, or graph don’t use three slides to explain the same concept.
- If you have 35 metrics and only three matter, highlight those. Not only will you keep your audience focused, but they’ll also remember why your work is making an impact.
Once you’ve designed your presentation, your next challenge is to wow your audience.
Here are some tips to take the “AH!!!!” out of public speaking:
It all starts with cultivating your confidence, which you can do by watching Amy Cuddy’s TED talk Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.
Translation: Public speaking is not an innate skill. You can learn it.
If you’re having trouble ‘faking it till you make it’ create an alter-ego. Think Beyonce and Sasha Fierce, and own the stage Super Bowl style!
“How confidently you deliver a message will make or break your presentation. You can have the best slides and the best content but if you deliver it without conviction, it will tank,” Nadine asserted.
“The best thing that you can achieve as a presenter is your audience feeling like you got inside their head.”
A key note to remember: Making an impact on your audience has to do with the specific individuals you are presenting to. Different audiences will be interested in different information. Constantly be refining your slides.
For example, if you are a founder going to pitch investors. Nadine suggests researching the individuals extensively. What are their likes, dislikes, hobbies? What are their last investments, and which companies did they pass on? The more you know, the higher chance you can drive them to action.
Once you’ve done your research, it is vital that you predigest your information.
As Nadine shared above, your audience doesn’t want to know everything about you. They want to know what it’s important.
Step on stage armed and ready to explain:
- What does this data mean?
- Why does it matter?
The core takeaway is that your slides, statistics, and lucky socks have nothing to do with the way your presentation is received. If you want to leave an impact you need to own the stage.