great presentation

How to make great and relevant presentations

Everybody remembers the ninth grade presentations just after PowerPoint had been released.

The effects images and transitions would not stop, and making presentation was more about getting text to twirl than getting a message through. You get the drift, after such a show you don’t remember more than the visual effects of the slide changes.

Making good presentations is both about your communications skills, but to a high degree also about what you put on the slides and how you structure them.


When to prepare the presentation?

A PowerPoint presentation is your support and your tool to get a message through – accordingly the actual focus should be on what you say, and furthermore then the presentation should support the facts that you state..

This basically means that you should think about your slides as the last thing, when you prepare yourself for the presentation. Start with figuring out what you are going to say and establish the common thread. Then prepare the slides that underline and support that.


Less is more

great presentations steve jobs

You basically want to make sure that the focus is on you, and that people don’t focus on looking too much at the slides. In this case less is really more, as a crammed slide with font size 6, steals the attention from you. People tend the read what is on the slides while not hearing everything the presenter says, so consequently you want as little as possible on the slides.

Steve Jobs is a great example in this context, as he mastered that with a black belt. Usually he only had one picture at a slide at a time, and very limited amount of text. This can be done by using photos that enhance meaning – Look for photos that (1) speak strongly to the concept you’re talking about and (2) aren’t compositionally complex.  A way to use photos without them taking too much focus, is to apply these as the slide background (this can have a powerful effect). When you do apply photos in the presentation, make sure that these have the same look and feel.


Effects and transitions

Effects in the slides and on the transition can be powerful tools, though it can easily take away focus from the topic. Go easy on the effects if you want to apply them and consider using other software than PowerPoint. The service Prezi is a great tool to assist with a visual boost, and will impress as it looks very professional, and assist you in creating a consistent look and feel, where the effects may even emphasize the point you are making. In respect of the actual transition, then it is always nice to be prepared for the change in topics from one slide to another.  A presentation legend named Bill Joos, applied a small x in the bottom of the slides to notify that the next slide is on  a different topic. Usually you should be able to remember your slides, though under very long and complicated presentations then a similar approach could be considered.


Short and simple

great presentations guy kawasaki

Even though presentations can concern highly complex topics, try and keeps the presentation short and simple. Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley marketing executive, who was one of Apple’s employees originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984 has evangelized the 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.

  • Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting.
  • You should give your ten slides in twenty minutes. Sure, you may have a full hour time slot, but even if the digital setup goes perfectly, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your presentation in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion.
  • The majority of the presentations that Guy Kawasaki see have text in a ten point font. As much text as possible is jammed into the slide, and then the presenter reads it. However, as soon as the audience figures out that you’re reading the text, it reads ahead of you because it can read faster than you can speak. The result is that you and the audience are out of synch. You should avoid this by using no more than a Thirty-point font.


The 10/20/30 rule might not work for all types of presentations, though keep it in mind as Guy Kawasaki has some good points.

Now we have brought you up to speed on how to make good presentations, and need to go that extra mile to make great presentations.


Good vs. Great presentations

By taking the above points into considerations should should now be on your way with a good presentation. In order to increase impact, make sure you step it up to a great presentation by considering these final words of wisdom:

Good presentations are memorable, contain valid information, and include stories, which meant that even a week later, your audience can still remember much of what you said. Or at least your main message. Each piece of data is thoroughly fact-checked, accurate, and never misleading. Unlike facts, stories speak to the heart, and every good presentation uses stories to illustrate points and to help people make an emotional connection to the message.

Great presentations are motivating, contains minimal information, and are stories

They bring the audience members to the point where they make a buying decision: either a final decision (“We want this product now!”) or an interim one (“Let’s bring this idea to the CEO”). Any information that’s not 100 percent relevant is stripped away. Great presentations are stories. Rather than containing stories, great presentations take the audience through an emotional journey that create a reason to decide right here, right now.