Day in and day out, we see lowly presentations with half-hearted bullet points come through our doors looking sad as wet dogs. Sometimes it feels like presentation writers don’t know where to begin, don’t care enough about their topic, or just plain don’t care. Wake up, presenters! You can make content so strong, people will think that Hemingway, Dickens, and Shakespeare all collaborated on it! Start with these five tips before you begin writing:
1. Forget Everything You Know(ish)
The days of data-heavy, bullet-point-driven, bulk-text slides are over. Those dark times have been relegated to museums with Medieval weaponry and carriages. The modern presentation is minimal in all aspects. Rather than relying on the slide’s text to read aloud to the audience, presenters now use the text to help support their existing talking points and guide them through the structure of the presentation. Welcome to the future! It’s a lot better looking.
Tip: Find a few modern presentations that inspire you and take a moment to appreciate how far these decks have come from their 90’s grandfathers.
2. Apply A Narrative
No matter what your message, product, or service you are presenting is, it has a story to tell. Stories enhance your audience’s memory and engages their active listening; you love them, I love them, everyone loves them. Consider shaping your presentation around the story of how you came up with the idea, or the problem it solved. You might even want to include a main character or a “to be continued” at the end if you’re feeling really creative.
Tip: Structure your content with a beginning, middle, and end.
3. Give it a Theme
One way to prevent your writing from flailing all over the place is to add a theme which will give your presentation consistency. Like a title, it can be a one or two word phrase which encompasses the entire goal or meaning of your message. For example, if you are making a presentation about a brand new doughnut that your bakery is going to release, the theme could simply be “Uncontrollably Delicious.”
Tip: Before you start writing, think of a theme and hold it in your mind as you work.
4. A Jaw-Dropping Takeaway
Most presentations leave you hanging, like an uncomfortable high-five the other person didn’t see. Don’t forget to finish your presentation with a call-to-action that means something to your message. Should your audience sign up for a class? Share their email addresses? Give you exactly $105.31? Be clear with what you want, make it sound urgent, and tie your call-to-action back with the original content.
Tip: Be sure you have a call-to-action that inspires your audience by the end of the presentation.
5. Slice and Dice
Many presentations we see aren’t inherently bad, they just need to be edited down by about a billion words. You can elaborate on a slide as necessary during your talk, but avoid paragraph-long rants, tons of bullet points, and grocery checklists on each slide. Reading from a slide or having a lot to read will distract your audience and looks tacky. Like “5th grade science project” tacky. As painful as it is, try using a single sentence (or less!) on each slide.
Tip: Cut down the content on your slides to simple, clear, almost-nothingness.
What we’re trying to say is that we want to see you break out of your content box. Try something new with your presentation, whether it’s a story, a fresh theme, or you’re demolishing bullet points. Stop making presentations that are as fun as eating a chalk sandwich! Fresh content will give your message new life.
About the author –
Sunday Avery is the Content Manager at Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki. Her life passions are books, brewing beer, and presentations.