It may not always feel like it, but every time you make a presentation you have a golden opportunity. To share your knowledge and ideas. To connect with your audience. And to leave them with a clear message to take wherever they are going next.
To move your audience in any direction – whether you want to inform or inspire, persuade or convince – you need to stand out.
“Don’t blend in; instead, clash with your environment. Stand out. Be uniquely different. That’s what will draw attention to your ideas.”
Nancy Duarte, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences
I’ve seen a lot of business presentations in my time, and they all have at least one thing in common: the corporate PowerPoint template.
With its logos, lines and headings, the template exists to ensure structure and branding consistency. In doing this, it often places your presentation on a prescribed path. But as a speaker it’s your responsibility not to blend in. To stand out, surprise, and ensure your message is heard.
Easier said than done? The trick is to step out of the template in the way you present. Your slides may be there to anchor your presentation, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Uniquely different. And captivate your audience from beginning to end.
Yes, you. Even when you’re making a complex business presentation – presenting financial data, or the results of scientific research.
I believe we are all creative, even if we don’t work in a typically creative job. And connecting with your audience is all about tapping into that inner creativity.
Here’s why: most presentations seek to tell a story. To capture attention, spark emotion, help the audience understand your message – and act on it.
Remember why you are there, and share the story behind the presentation. Add a dose of personality and passion to the proceedings. Yes, even in a business presentation. Especially in a business presentation.
Because business is not just about figures, data or bullet points of information. It’s also about people. People who have invested time – weeks, months or sometimes years – and energy to create those results.
Those people deserve a spotlight. A chance to showcase their work.
You therefore need to go beyond the template to tell that story, and shine that spotlight. The lines and logos may still be there on the screen, but the way you deliver your presentation has to transcend the framework it provides.
How to shine a spotlight on your presentation content
- Speak with the same energy you invested in producing that content – or those results – to connect with your audience. Practice at home first and check your energy levels.
- Draw on your interests, your passions, your culture to add anecdotes and colour. I always encourage my clients to treat a business presentation as they would a personal talk. To allow themselves to feel that same passion they would feel if sharing a personal story.
- Dare to do things differently. One of my clients ended a scientific presentation with a burst from a Queen song – the song title backed up his key message, so why not? It was memorable.
And definitely stand out with your last slide. Use it as an opportunity not to thank your audience (I’m a firm opponent of the final “Thank you” slide), but to leave them with a message or idea that resonates. That neatly wraps up everything that’s gone before.
Step out of the template by daring to present differently… and let your creativity, energy and passion run free.
Ready to step out of the template? If so, I’d love to hear from you.