While design and style factor in, it’s the content that makes or breaks a presentation.
In the world of presentations, content is everything. Your presentation content includes the way you plan, prepare and create what you are saying and how you say it.
The truth is that the design and delivery of your presentation are not the main factors that will determine if it hits the mark and delivers on your objective – it’s actually your content. You should keep in mind:
- how to define your purpose for presenting
- how your message resonates with the audience
- the words you’re using to transfer that message
- the images that will present it.
Without this, you could be the best speaker in the world, but still fail to engage or influence your audience.
Pick your purpose
Why are you presenting? What’s at the heart of what you want to communicate? These may seem like obvious questions, but it’s amazing how many people put a presentation together without having clear answers to these. When it comes to content, the first step is to know why you are giving a presentation.
Your purpose will help you decide what content goes in, and more importantly, what content stays out. It will also help you with all the other steps that follow – from designing your slides, to delivering your presentation and sharing it with your audience.
Present, don’t report
Selecting the content you will share with your audience depends on how you’re planning to deliver it, and in which format. Are you presenting one-on-one, in a boardroom, or as a keynote? Are you workshopping information and data around a table in a discussion format?
Slides support a speaker and what they are saying. They are designed to help the audience understand and remember through visuals to evoke emotion, infographics to simplify data or diagrams to explain a process.
Presentations should contain only key points and visuals. If you’ve got lots of supporting information and data, leave it out of your presentation and provide it in a report document that your audience can refer to later.
A report is a standalone document that has lots of information – facts, stats, data and graphs. This document can be read on its own (like a magazine or brochure). If you present your report on screen, your audience will be confused and distracted by the small text and lack of focus.
Cut the cr@p
Many people believe that sharing everything and blinding their audience with numbers is the best way to be transparent and open when it comes to content – that couldn’t be further from the truth. This will only put off the people you are trying to engage, and make them lose interest faster.
A powerful presentation has content that’s clear, easy to understand and uses simple language and images that connect with and engage your audience through a balance of emotion and analytics. Your audience will leave the presentation feeling inspired or excited to act on what you want them to do.
A poor presentation, on the other hand, has content that’s overloaded with facts, stats, numbers, corporate jargon and dense text. It leaves the audience feeling confused, turned off and disengaged. They will leave the room with no idea of what to do next – except never attend one of your presentations again.
Make sure you get clear on content, so this doesn’t happen to you!
Emma Bannister is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio and author of upcoming book “Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations”.