Presentations are a chance for you, the presenter, to shine.

Or… presentations are a chance for you, the presenter, to spend days or weeks completely stressing out.

The prospect of an imminent presentation can bring up all kinds of reactions, but they don’t need to be negative. There are strategies for ensuring that talks go smoothly–through writing a great script to crafting well-designed visuals. Follow our tried-and-tested tips for how to build a presentation with impact.

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Preparing your Presentation

When it comes to killer presentations, it’s all in the prep work. We’ve narrowed it down to three key steps to make a presentation (and you) stand out.

Choose and prepare your topic

Oftentimes as a presenter, your topic chooses you, not the other way around. But, even if you have to present on, say, Q3 results, you still have control over how you share the information. When you prepare the information you are going to present, think about how best to structure it. A good place to start is with a relatable story. For example, don’t just present facts and figures, show your audience the impact those numbers have. Think about the most relatable, powerful anecdotes that will bring your topic to life, and lead with those.

Know your Audience

Your audience should guide how you structure your presentation. A good place to start is by asking yourself who will be on the receiving end of your presentation–are they business-savvy colleagues who know all the jargon, or are they a group of newbies eager to learn? It’s always easier to connect with an audience when you have a clear picture of them in your mind, so take the time to understand your listeners. They will reward you with their attention.

Know your Strengths

Playing to your strengths is always a good strategy. Before you give your presentation, think back to what went well when you’ve presented in the past. Did you start off with a really effective opening gambit that got the attention of your audience right away? What about your conclusion - have you found that a quick informal poll is a nice way to wrap things up? Are you naturally funny, creative, or super logical? The key is this: don’t try to be someone else when you present, try to be the best version of yourself!

Know your Time Limit

Time has a way of slowing down to a snail's pace when you are in front of an audience. It’s important to settle on an ideal length for your presentation before you start writing it. The most effective presentations get their message across efficiently, so you may not need as much time as you think. A good statistic to keep in mind: most people lose interest in a presentation after only ten minutes. Get clear on your core message and make sure your presentation is centered around communicating those key ideas as effectively as possible.

Writing Impactful Content

Here’s where you get to show your audience what you know. Your script should act like a support for you if you lose your train of thought, but you should resist the urge to read from a script word for word. This is where great notes come in. Keep reading for tips on how to write content that is guaranteed to connect with your audience.

💡 How to keep your audience interested?

Switch up your presentation as much as possible to keep your audience interested - that means adding statistics, short videos, or pausing to ask questions.

Back up your points with real-life examples

Facts and figures are important, but few people want to listen to a presentation that is too heavy on statistics. When you make a presentation, try to structure everything like a story - share the key facts along with a real-life example of why they matter. Making emotional connections helps people remember what they’ve heard.

Create a Solid Structure

A presentation needs to flow logically. Too many twists and turns, and you risk losing your audience along the way. Try to break your presentation up into sections - ideally, each section should hit a single point. Remember, a well-structured presentation will help you stay on track, and it will also help your audience follow along. Map out the most logical progression of your presentation, start by establishing your topic, why it’s important, and move into the facts people need to know

Keep it simple, keep it short!

You are undoubtedly excited about your topic, and knowledgeable too - why else would you be presenting on it? It’s great to have the expertise and passion to lead a discussion, but try not to get carried away. Think of it this way - would you rather be drowning in information or intrigued by just the right amount of content? Bottom line: leave your audience informed, not suffering from information overload.

Use your conclusion to re-enforce your points

You’ve written a great script! Congrats - but there is still the matter of the conclusion. This is not the time to offer up any new information, rather, the conclusion should review what you’ve already shared, and tie back to your introduction.

Designing your Presentation

Follow these steps for designing a stand-out presentation.

Ten slides or less

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to keep the number of slides to a minimum. This gives your audience a chance to absorb what is on the slides while you elaborate, a much better strategy than moving too quickly through too many slides. While you’re at it, make sure those slides aren’t cluttered with too much text. You, the presenter, are there to elaborate - the slide is a simplified, visual version of what you plan to say.

Play with visuals

This is where you go from presenter to designer - and it should be fun! Try to include colorful graphics, eye-catching font, and well-placed videos or gifs, but do so sparingly. You want to make your content stand out, not overwhelm your audience with a visual display that distracts from your point. A good way to strike the right tone is to stay consistent. If you choose one font, stick with it throughout the presentation. The same goes for colors and even font sizes. And, for an added dose of professionalism, make sure you take the time to format your slides correctly - that means uniform margins and graphics that are sized properly.

PlayPlay’s video creation solution is perfect for crafting short videos that add oomph to a presentation. Why not try the tool for your next big presentation, no special editing skills required?

Embrace the negative…space

When presenting, the slides themselves should support your script and act as very high-level guides to what you will be speaking about. That means text should be minimal–stick to bullet points when possible and make sure that you use one slide per point. Your audience will prefer a clean, evenly spaced slide rather than a big, intimidating block of text.

Edit, edit, edit

Now that you have your presentation prepared, there is one last step before you start to practice - editing! You can’t risk having a gorgeous presentation derailed by a spelling error or an out-of-date statistic, that’s why it pays to take the extra time to review what you’ve written and double check any facts and figures you share. It can be helpful to ask a friend to look over your presentation too. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can reveal something you might have missed.

Presentation day: time to shine!

So you’ve done all the groundwork crafting a beautiful presentation–research, design, editing. Now’s when you get to focus on the delivery. Whether you are an experienced public speaker or a confirmed Glossophobe, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on public speaking tips. Here’s a few to get you started.

Practice makes perfect

Remember the friend who helped you proof-read your presentation? Their work isn’t done just yet. It’s important to get some practice presenting in front of an audience before the big day, so why not recruit a friend or family member to act as your test audience. Make sure you ask for honest feedback!

Memorize what you can

Disorganized cue cards, technical difficulties, a hard-to-find conference room: even with the most well-planned presentations, the unexpected can still find a way of messing with your flow. The best way to guard yourself against potential problems is to memorize as much of your presentation as possible - if you know it by heart, it will be much easier to keep moving forward in the event of a roadblock or disruption. Try to memorize some questions or anecdotes to keep your audience engaged in the event something goes wrong–it never hurts to have a conversation-starter in your back pocket!

Give the audience some love

It’s hard to forget about your audience completely, but sometimes an entire presentation can go by without the speaker engaging with the audience properly. It’s important to connect with the crowd by asking questions, making sustained eye-contact, or even sharing personal, relatable stories. We tend to trust people we feel connected to, and making eye-contact for a good 60 to 70 percent of your presentation can help build an emotional connection between you and your audience.

Remember to breathe

Even with all the preparation you’ve done, it’s natural to feel a little nervous when speaking in front of a crowd. If presentation day rolls around and you feel a few butterflies, you’re in good company. Fear of public speaking affects an estimated 75% of the adult population! Some good tactics to help relieve nervousness are to focus on your breath and speak slowly to give the impression you are relaxed. Remember, your audience probably can’t diagnose a case of public speaking jitters from where they’re sitting!

Fire up the presentation!

You’ve written your presentation, designed beautiful slides, proofread, fact-checked, and practiced, practiced, practiced! Phew! Giving a great presentation is a lot of work, but PlayPlay video creation software can help make things easier–with features like drag and drop, layout suggestions, and high-quality images included, adding video to your presentation has never been easier.