The best presentation structure

Need a presentation structure for persuasion, for selling, for convincing…?

Since founding Presented we’ve always been interested in the part that neuroscience plays in the presentation experience.

As well as how information is displayed to best be understood by the brain (and quickly), there are also scientific-based structures that will help your audience to recall your messages.

Cliff Atkinson’s celebrated presentation book “Beyond Bullet Points” details a strategy that forms the backbone of our “go to” presentation structure here at Presented. It ticks the neuroscience box in several ways: repetition, engagement, relevance, repetition, clarity, proof points, conviction and of course repetition.

If you remember one thing from that sentence it’s likely to be repetition right? Because it was repeated in the text. It’s just a clumsy way to demonstrate that it works. It’s not rocket science but it is neuroscience.

The best presentation structure, full stop:

1. We set the scene, we make sure it is relevant for the audience, we engage with a challenge of how to get from A to B, and state a call to action.
That’s the beginning.

2. The middle is stating and proving 3 key points that support a call to action. Assuming you have 3, and we recommend that number but we can stretch to 5 if it’s necessary (it probably isn’t).

3. And the end is a recap of the 3 key points and that call to action.

So in summary, we engage the audience, and tell them what we’re going to tell them. Then we tell them. And then we tell them what we’ve told them. The repetition.

It’s important to point out that with this presentation strategy that the call to action is not as simple as a “next step”. It’s more a fulfillment of the presentation objective.

For example, a call to action is likely to be: “Partner with us for the best software solution” (a bit generic, apologies). “Partner with us for…” or “Enroll today for…” or “Embrace the changes to be at the forefront with x…”. The call to action should be motivating, it should lead to a benefit or an advantage. And from the rest of the presentation content it should be as clear as pie exactly why it’s the right action to take.

We don’t treat the call to action as a “phone us to make an appointment” or “visit our website to find out more”. It is however the objective of why you are presenting. In its simplest form it’s usually to motivate or persuade.

So make the most of the opportunity you have to present to an audience. By wall means include a next step, it can appear on a final slide to add some practical clarity, but it’s not what we mean here by a call to action.

The best structure for investment decks

Pitches for investment can follow the same structure that we’ve loosely described above. But there is a difference.

Here the angels, investors, dragons, call them what you will – they are all looking out for some key business information that they need to see in order to judge the merits of the business case being presented.

Guy Kawasaki has listed out 10 slides that are required, and we created our own guidance PDF to cover these. (The link will take you to a LinkedIn doc post).

You’ll need to detail: The scene, the problem and the opportunity that your service or product will solve, the size of the marketplace, how you’re going to tap that market, what your personal credentials are, where you’ve got to so far and your timeline for the next 3 years. You’ll also need to acknowledge what the competition are doing and what differentiates you from them.

Ideally you’ll have just one slide for each of these areas. If you go off topic – it might be entertaining for you, but it’s unlikely to be needed for the angels at the initial pitch stage. They’ll do their research and due diligence so you won’t want to drown them in details too early on.

Another recommended structure

The next best structure to mention is a non-linear presentation!

You’ll still need to create a powerful beginning, of course, and a call to action that fulfills your goals.

A non-linear structure involves letting the audience decide where to go. Although it works well with small meetings, it can work with big meetings also where you can set up voting and really let the masses choose their own destination.

Hyperlinked content, menus, case studies that are chosen for that particular client or customer – all are non-linear features that you can click at will. It keeps the presentation fresh, and makes it feel far more bespoke and special for the customer.

Need more ideas regarding presentation structures?

Talk to the team and we’ll help you smash your next presentation.

What value does presentation design bring?

You may need more than presentation design…

Of course, our team does superb presentation design. We’re simply expert graphic designers and can give you even more. So whether you need to save time, up your presentation ante, get your teams producing consistent material or need a creative blast. We’re here for you.

Our team boasts some amazing wordsmiths and strategists. By crafting a convincing storyline, your presentation will convince and convert more of your audience. Whether you are raising investment, pitching, updating internal stats or running through some change management – your story should be memorable and clear. We’ve studied the neuroscience behind communication and can help your presentation hit the mark.

Be surprised by PowerPoint:
Avoiding a Death by PowerPoint experience is even more of a challenge now so many of us are presenting remotely. It’s too easy for an audience to multitask, and our attention spans are getting shorter by the week.

To increase engagement we can recommend several of PowerPoint’s latest features. From Zoom dashboards to Morphs and from Hyperlinked Menus to Triggers. Interactive presentations allow you to respond to your audience’s needs and interests. Movement and a non-linear approach will help you to captivate attention. And you’ll likely get kudos points too.

Template services.
Yes, even the word templates sounds a bit boring, but they are genius! A correctly built user-friendly template will save you masses of time and will ensure that your teams produce nice looking (on brand) slides time and again.

Just say the Word.
For a long time we’ve kept it quiet that we’re expert in Word. But step into the light dear team – yes we can take your Word woes away. We set template styles, colour palettes to match branding, and basically make Word look more like InDesign. Indeed, if you have an InDesign and want it to be in Word instead, or even PowerPoint (yes of course), then we are your team.

Some surprising things too.
We’re graphic designers. So can turn our hand to many areas, such as infographics, and ad hoc items like conference banners, chocolate bars & wrappers, logos, lorry curtains, postcards etc. If you aren’t sure we can do it – just ask, we’ll always answer honestly about our expertise.

Pimp us out.
We already partner with many agencies, often working as a white label provider. If you want to offer your clients a little of what we can do – then we can provide you with an unbranded portfolio for you to share.

4 strategies to improve virtual body language  

Having better virtual body language will improve how you connect and engage with your audience online.

You may have noticed that presenting face to face feels different to presenting virtually.

Take reading the body language in a room for example. Today’s wall of muted participants can leave you feeling funny, or unfunny should you have attempted a joke. And if they aren’t on mute (how dare they!) then all sorts of background noises can create interference, distracting your audience and potentially interrupting your flow.

Indeed, now that an audience is no longer held captive by the auditorium or meeting room, viewers can multitask whilst still appearing to be listening. Or they might hide their video feed to obscure possible inattention or children. Or we get distracted by said children or pets (hurrah!). Oh, and they just left! Did the wifi drop or did they just pretend it did? Like that old “oh, I’m losing signal” escape when on your mobile phone… (cue amusing verbal sound effects).

This change in the presenting dynamic has drawn attention to the fact that it’s less easy to see engagement, so our natural reaction (rightly) is to work on engagement.

I’ve read ‘new’ advice for presenters suggesting that more slides and more variety will hold attention better when presenting virtually. Well, I have a newsflash: this has always been the case for all presentations! Looking at one slide for more than a few minutes gets boring quickly. Even in an auditorium. Presenters often believe they are doing a mighty fine job spending 10 minutes on a slide because no one told them any different. They’ve done it that way for years. But those audiences couldn’t escape and we simply didn’t expect anything else from a presentation experience.

So yes we do need to work on engagement. Aside from interactivity, better slide variety, breaks, break out rooms and other energy-changers, body language still plays an important role when you’re essentially presenting to your own monitor.

You may feel it’s challenging to show body language in the virtual environment. But it’s still important to be aware that it does play a role. Our physical gestures can be subconsciously interpreted by those we are communicating with – this can work for or against us depending on the type of body language we use.

No matter how pretty a set of slides is or how informative the content, if the speaker is stiff and awkward the audience will feel uncomfortable too. So how can you appear confident and assertive when you are really a bag of nerves inside?

1: Smile when talking.

Smile because it helps your delivery. Try it (do it now if appropriate): say “smiling helps your delivery” both with and without a smile. Does your intonation change at all?

Aside from a smile helping your voice. It lights up your face. Yes, even yours, it really does. Indeed be aware of all your facial expressions. Show them, hide them if it’s wiser, but remember your face is in your power – so use it.

2: Make eye contact.

When presenting virtually you should stare down the barrel of your camera lens. It takes some getting used to. Keep practicing.

Or think of it like you’re delivering to your monitor. But you love your monitor, don’t you? Take a good fond look at it, go on, bat your best heart eyes. (This should make your eyes smile…)

3. Maintain good posture or stand up.

Good posture and positioning is important. It makes you look confident. Slouching, fidgeting or leaning back on your chair do not give a good impression. For presenting virtually, experts recommend a standing desk. You’ll be bigger (in stature), feel more in control, feel more confident and your body language will come more naturally. (Because, yes, we do recognise that sat-down-body-language can feel a bit fake).

4. Don’t be a sitting duck.

Whether you are sitting or standing your movements can contribute to your message. Leaning in adds emphasis (whether you are talking or listening), although a good guide is not to let your face take up more than 30% of the screen. So lean in “a little”.

Using hand gestures is a useful way to support the point that you are making. To make this natural position the camera so that the top half of your body is framed, and not only your head and shoulders. Relax and use your hands sparingly to emphasize your words.

Definitely don’t pop your elbows on the desk and move your hands about. You’ll end up looking like a Thunderbird. I’ve seen this happen, trust me, it’s awful.

Body language overview:

It may take a while for this all to come naturally to you. Don’t stress. Be authentic to yourself.

Do watch the virtual body language of other people and see what works for them… and what doesn’t. And of course video yourself in rehearsal or watch your live presentation back. You will find that you can easily spot your own presentation body language triumphs and wayward moves. Being aware of what you do and what others do is the first step to improving! Never be afraid to make mistakes: you’ll learn better and faster if you do 😊

Enjoy your next presentation experience! Read this related blog on body language.

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Are you using these interactive PowerPoint features to boost engagement?

Interactive PowerPoint features might not seem essential, but they can increase the level of engagement from your audience.

If using interactive PowerPoint captures attention, then 100% it’s worth adding to your bag of tricks.

With the trend to use video meetings set to continue, there’s no reason to encourage yet more Zoom fatigue. It’s tempting for viewers to do other things whilst in meetings – checking emails, scrolling news feeds, checking LinkedIn (me).

So here are two videos that show methods we recommend. Both can keep your audience paying attention AND feeling more engaged:

Interactive PowerPoint menu options

Not only does an interactive menu make your navigation clear, it also means you can jump around and present only certain sections or certain pages. This allows a more spontaneous presentation flow. Your delivery won’t get flat, and you can make it bespoke to your audience’s interests on the fly.

Display your case studies in PowerPoint

Both of the menus for cases studies above are interactive. It should be obvious by now that this allows you to click on whichever case study is relevant to your audience. Indeed, you can even ask the audience to pick. This is ideal for engagement.

And you can send the PPT via email for someone to view on their own monitor and make their own choices. We like this side of interactivity as it puts the customer first.

Also, whichever menu you prefer for your case studies, they both show your audience that you have many more (instead of pre-loading your deck with a small selection you chose earlier). Showing more – in a list or as logos – is a fun way to name drop clients without saying a word!

We hope these 2 videos give you some inspiration. Please share with a friend or colleague if it might help them too!
We have more Interactive PowerPoint examples on our vimeo page.

Good luck with your next interactive PowerPoint experience 🙂

A great PowerPoint template can make your life easier…

…but what makes a template great? The best brands are consistent across all communication channels. For your presentations to honour your brand then you need a great PowerPoint template.

At Presented, we see bad templates ALL THE TIME. We get sent templates that are ugly, built incorrectly and difficult to use. So today we are fighting back!

There are five things that make a template great:

1. A great PowerPoint template looks great

This should go without saying! Your presentation could be the audience’s first impression of your organisation. A template that lets you create top notch slides means that your first impression will be a good impression.

Include enough layouts that let your team swerve boring bullet points and you are on to a winner!

2. It is simple to use

To be great, a template needs to be used by everyone in your organisation. If everyone uses the same template, it will be easy to combine slides created by different people. Therefore, the template needs to be super simple to use, with clear instructions that prompt users to make good choices.

3. It is a bespoke solution to your specific needs

You know what type of slides your organisation regularly produces. A template that is tailored to your needs will take this into account and include appropriate layouts that do the legwork for you and your team. You will be able to create professional slides quickly, with a variety of layouts to give you flexibility. This might mean you include:

  • A library of commonly used slides (e.g. an “About Us” slide) that users can drop into their presentation or use as inspiration for creating new slides
  • A selection of brand-consistent icons that that can be recoloured and resized
  • A variety of colour options so that you can easily distinguish between different sections in the presentation (see how easy this colour change can be in the GIF below)

4. A great PowerPoint template ensures brand consistency

The main raison d’être of a template is to ensure that presentations are consistently created to a high level. The best way to make sure this happens is to train staff in how to use your template. That could be through live training sessions or simply a series of how-to videos.

A great template will make sure that your brand guidelines are followed easily:

  • Logos will be correctly sized and positioned in the master layouts
  • Brand colours will be added to the palette with the correct RGB values
  • Guidelines will be set up in the layouts so that content can be nicely aligned and kept within appropriate areas
  • Slide headings will use your brand font in a consistent size and positioning, if desired

…and if, for some reason, your brand requires you to have all images in the shape of a dog’s face, then a great template will include image placeholders to make this very quick:

GIF showing image placeholder that is in the shape of a dog's face

5. It is technically correct

This is where you need to know your onions. A great template needs to be set up correctly behind the scenes. For example:

  • Colour palettes should be installed into the template’s theme and arranged in the correct order so that charts are automatically populated with appropriate colours
  • Non-standard fonts should be embedded if possible
  • The template should have a small file size so that presentations can easily be shared
  • Unless there is an important reason for it, images should not compress automatically when you save a file as this can ruin image quality

If a layout is set up well, then you should be able to butcher a slide completely and simply hit “reset” to snap everything back to where it should be, like so:

GIF showing how you can hit the reset button to snap content back into their placeholders

We’re nerds when it comes to PowerPoint templates – if you want a great template that works for your organisation, let’s talk.

Prezi Video can revolutionise how you present remotely

Prezi Video has been taking the conferencing calling world by storm recently, and for a good reason!

Woman on laptop at home recording a Prezi Video

Good communication has never been so important. But now that most of us are restricted to working from home, there are real challenges to keeping that human element in your presentation. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, there are real challenges to simply keeping your audience’s attention and stopping them from multi-tasking whilst they’re on the call!

When you share your screen to present your slides, with most conferencing software your webcam feed is minimised (or disappears completely), which means that the focus for the audience is no longer on the presenter. This is OK sometimes, but not always! Sometimes you want the focus to be on the slides, but most of the time you want the focus to be on the presenter. After all, the presenter is the star of the show. But how can this be achieved when presenting online?

Enter Prezi Video! With Prezi Video you can create slides (or “frames” as they call them) that take up a small area of the screen, leaving plenty of space for the presenter to build engagement with the audience. These slides can be presented live using most video conferencing software, or you can record a video to send out later. If you need to focus on the detail of a particular slide, you can toggle views to focus only on the slides.

The Prezi Video software is not too expensive and the learning curve is not too steep. However, it is a little bit limited in what it can achieve compared to PowerPoint. Nonetheless, this is an exciting development, and hopefully it will push Microsoft to develop something similar and more advanced in PowerPoint.

Here’s an example of Prezi Video created by our Account Manager Sara: