3 Key Elements to Make Your Presentation Great
Engaging PowerPoint Presentations is one of my favourite courses to teach. I get people to evaluate which slides work and which don’t. They look at their own experience of great presentations. Believe it or not, it is never to do with slides full of bullet-pointed text appearing on screen.
Here are my three key elements to make your presentation great.
Hi, we are Happy
We are leading a movement to create happy, empowered and productive workplaces.
How can we help you and your people to find joy in at least 80% of your work?
1) Less is More
My moment of revelation came ten years ago in a presentation from Guy Kawasaki. His talk was on Ten Ways to Succeed on the Internet and there were just ten slides. Each contained a short statement such as “Don’t worry, be crappy” (the philosophy of getting it up there even if it’s not perfect or even finished). It was a 20-minute talk. So each slide was up there for two minutes.
Too much text on screen restricts you and ties you to the slide. Guy was liberated from the technology. He walked around, he told stories, and all the time the key message was behind him as reinforcement. I realised my text-heavy slides were weighing me down and were taking away my natural enthusiasm and draining my passion. I went back to the office and deleted all that text from my own presentations. Adopting the Kawasaki method, I have Guy to thank for a lot of awards and business I have won in the last decade. Use powerful visuals, videos too. But for text, my rule-of-thumb is now a maximum of 10 words per slide.
Guy Kawasaki describes his approach to PowerPoint here with the 10/20/30 rule – 10 slides, 20 minutes, no font less than 30 pt.
2) Tell Me a Story
One man on my course who worked for a housing association put up a slide about how housing changes people’s lives. If you can fit the accommodation to a person’s needs, then you make life better for them. Sounded a reasonable argument, but it was nothing any of us would remember a week later. Instead I got him to tell it as a story:
“When I started in housing we had a tenant who was in a wheelchair but whose flat was at the top of a flight of stairs. To get out, he had to sit at the top and shout to passers-by to help him get down. As a result, he rarely went out. We found him a ground-floor flat, fully accessible. It changed his life. He was so grateful he used to come into our office every day to thank us. That is why I’m in housing, because it changes people’s lives.”
I will always remember that story and now believe, as he does, of the vital importance of the right housing. Most of us have a tendency to talk theoretically. Stop. Look at the key points you are trying to make and find a story to match each one. Because I can guarantee you that it will be the stories that people remember.
3) Involve Me
Last night I went to a seminar on Zen and the Art of Social Media by Sinead MacManus. She is a passionate advocate of a focused approach online and there were some great stories and examples. But what enabled me to work out how I could apply it to my business and put this blog entry on my to-do list was the involvement. I spoke with my colleagues on the course and worked out how it was relevant to me.
Too many presenters miss out the involvement but, in doing so, they reduce the impact. Your audience will remember the stories. But it is through involvement that they will relate it to their own lives – and don’t think you can’t involve big audiences. I have been in a presentation with 3,000 people where learning guru Elliott Maisie fully involved every person in discussion.
Simply asking people to turn to their neighbour and discuss how what you have said relates to them will increase how much people remember and how much impact it has.
It’s even better if you structure the involvement to make a point. In my speeches on creating happy workplaces I ask people to come up with the three most important elements of great management in their groups. Then I ask them when they personally worked at their best. Given that great management should be about getting people to work at their best, the answers should be the same. But they rarely are. People get the point that what they are focusing on in management are the wrong things. A point people discover through involvement is far more powerful than one you try to persuade them of.
There are other elements to great presentations. You must speak with passion. You must be clear about the key points you want to get across. But once you have those key points, make sure you have a story and a point of involvement for each. Sit people down to prepare a presentation and you will find them spending lots of time on the bullet-points, the fonts and the colour of the slides. These will not make a big difference to your audience. Spend your time instead on putting only the core message on your slides, finding great stories and ways to involve people, and then your presentations will be truly memorable.
Why not sign up to our newsletter?
Sign up to our monthly newsletter, full of tips, tricks and news to help you to be happier and more productive at work.
Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer
Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd, originally set up as Happy Computers in 1987. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he has built a company which has won multiple awards for some of the best customer service in the country and being one of the UK’s best places to work.
Henry was listed in the Guru Radar of the Thinkers 50 list of the most influential management thinkers in the world. "He is one of the thinkers who we believe will shape the future of business," explained list compiler Stuart Crainer.
His first book, Relax, was published in 2009. His second book, the Happy Manifesto, was published in 2013 and was short-listed for Business Book of the Year.
Testimonials from happy Customers
Jonathan Heath1 day ago
I have been on a few Happy courses, in a training room at work and online too. Very knowledgeable trainers and patient too!
Bernard Williams-Barrow3 days ago
The tutor explain everything to you and make you feel comfortable
Trusted Customer3 days ago
5 starts for John - super helpful and patient.
Trusted Customer5 days ago
Right level, including and relaxed feeling.
Luisa Hasdell5 days ago
The course was well structured and the tutor was very patient and knowledgeable and helped us all. My headset decided to die about 10 minutes from the end but he wasn't p...
Trusted Customer5 days ago
Trainer was excellent. Involved the whole group. Speed and tempo of training was just right. Were able to bring our own experiences and plans for the future.
Amanda Adegoke6 days ago
Really informative and relevant contact and the delivery was excellent.
Sam Giles8 days ago
Instructor was patient and tailored everything to people of all levels.
Trusted Customer8 days ago
Online classes are not a good idea when you have to use one screen to look at three things at the same time. Listen to the tutor, look at what they do on one screen and a...
Trusted Customer8 days ago
Training was great, easy to follow.
Pablo Barrio8 days ago
Great tips during the training. I liked a lot the spreadsheet that helps decide what structure is better depending on the problem at hand.
Trusted Customer9 days ago
Straightforward and efficient. Course was easy to book; communication was straightforward; course joining instructions were clear.