Presentation“No change, no point.”

Seth Godin emphasized in one of his blog posts last year that a presentation that doesn’t intend to create change is a time-waster. All factors involved – topic, audience, venue, etc. – should be tailored to attain a desired effect; otherwise, you fail as a presenter.

But how do you make that change possible within a short talk? Let’s summarize what authorities say on how to improve your presentations.

10, 20, 30

Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley speaker and Garage Technology Ventures’ co-founder, popularized the 10/20/30 PowerPoint rule.

  • 10 refers to the optimal number of slides to be used in a presentation. It can’t go beyond that number because ordinary people can’t absorb more than 10 main ideas in a meeting or talk.
  • 20 denotes the ideal length of a presentation. If you have a one-hour time slot, you can allot the rest of the time for discussion with your audience.
  • 30 stands for the font size of your text. Each slide should only contain salient points, not paragraphs of text squeezed to fit the available space.

Understandable, Memorable, Emotional

Carmine Gallo, author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, explained to MBA students of Stanford Graduate School of Business what makes a presentation successful:

  • Understandable. Presentations should have a short, clear and simple message. He encourages using a Twitter-friendly headline, a technique awe-inspiring communicators apply when speaking in front of a crowd.
  • Memorable. The audience should remember the main points of a presentation; otherwise there is no impact created. The most effective technique for achieving memorability is the Rule of 3. Limit your presentation to three sections, because the short-term memory can’t take absorb more numerous concepts in a short time period.
  • Emotional. Add an emotional component to your presentation. And excellent way to do this is with a moving and relevant story. It is stirred emotion, not analytic thinking that prompts people to take action after your speech.

3 P’s for a Presentation

Apart from the actionable tips above, we would like to add three more concepts you can integrate into your presentations.

  • Prepare. If you organize your thoughts at the 11th hour, you will most likely end up with a lame presentation. Preparation, regardless of your knowledge and experience, is a priority. That means researching your audience, structuring your ideas, preparing your audio-visual aids, and practicing for comfort, confidence and perfection.
  • Perform. Consider your presentation as a work of art on stage. Be knowledgeable, be natural, and be yourself. Pay attention to your body posture and movement; exude confidence and expertise and you’ll more easily persuade people. Establish rapport, build trust, and adjust your style according to your audience’s response. You definitely do not want to come across as a robot. Be yourself, and don’t be afraid to ad lib and interact.
  • Ponder. A technically well-crafted speech won’t necessarily be an effective one. Effectiveness all boils down to the question, “Did I achieve my main objective?” If your presentation introduced your university in order to increase the number of enrollees, find out how many applications are submitted. If your goal was to have a proposal approved, gather some feedback from the management. Whatever your objective may be, come up with a way to evaluate whether you achieved it or not.

More Presentation Tips

To learn more actionable techniques for improving your presentation skills, visit Slideshop.com, a provider of pre-customized PowerPoint templates. It blogs about attention-grabbing slide designs, advanced PowerPoint tricks, and other tips that will help you be a great presenter.


Toke Kruse

About the author:

Toke Kruse is the CEO of Slideshop.com, a leading provider of pre-designed PowerPoint templates. Toke is a graduate of Copenhagen Business School and has launched nearly a dozen companies since entering the world of entrepreneurship at the age of 18.