How to: Create content that ‘sticks’ when presenting

How to: Create content that ‘sticks’ when presenting

by Richard Broughton – 22nd June 2011

Whether you’re launching new products, winning new customers or turning employees into brand champions, a dynamic and engaging presentation will set you apart from your competitors. Lyndon Nicholson, Co-CEO of Article10 Presentations, discusses the importance of creating business presentations that will motivate your audience to act long after your presentation is over.

Arguably, presenting is the most important setting in which to forge a business relationship. Foul it up and it’s all over. However a presentation is not just an opportunity to share information. A successful presentation needs to align with a defined purpose or goal in order for you to deliver something that actually achieves the required results. The main objective of the majority of business presentations is to clearly express your company’s expertise in relation to a specific issue, but most importantly your content must be relevant to your audience. It is imperative that you understand your crowd so that you can build in relevant points that will interest the listener and relate to their business goals or objectives.


Presentation graphics

Today smart businesses are placing as much emphasis on the look and feel of their presentations as they would any other part of the communications mix. In a constantly connected business environment, audience attention spans are short and business presentations must excite and stimulate the audience, not turn them off. Incorporating 3D visual design such as stills, illustrations and animation can give a presentation stand out and is a critical tool for today’s marketer. 3D graphics can be a powerful way to help sell products and is particularly useful when showcasing a product for the first time. It is very important to note that this type of visual graphic doesn’t replace traditional photography, but gives you greater flexibility with your communications. That said, poorly executed visuals can detract from the content and make slides look unprofessional. Powerful imagery will enhance a PowerPoint presentation but it is essential that the slide design is given adequate consideration and that any imagery – animated or stills, is well executed and closely aligned with the subject matter.


Make every word count

To ensure that each slide makes an impact and strengthens the point that you are trying to communicate, aim to use no more than six words per slide and a strong visual. If written content is essential, limit yourself to a maximum of seven lines of text with no more than seven words per line. However, if your slide presentation has a lot of content and requires multiple paragraphs and several bullet points, it indicates that you need to reconsider the format and a corporate document is probably more suitable. Statistics and data are another vital component of business presentations – graphs and charts are an obvious way of displaying this sort of information in an easy to interpret format. Displaying charts in creative ways can help clarify your point or move the audience’s attention on to the next focus, for example by fading a bar chart into the horizon line before showing the next graph. There is no substitute for taking time to plan and prepare a presentation. If you want your audience to engage with what you are saying you need to spend time finding examples and supporting evidence. One way to do this is to quote specific statements or statistics to back up your content. Incorporating third party expertise or endorsement into presentations can also be a very powerful way of framing your goals so that they appear credible. When you approach the construction of your presentation in this way, your content will align with your goal to build awareness of your brand, solution or expertise.


Keep your presentation front of mind

B2B buying is still largely about building a relationship with your audience and proving that you can deliver on what you promise. However, commercial decisions are rarely taken there and then. There’s usually a huddle a few hours, days or weeks afterwards where content is shared before external approval is sought. In today’s constantly connected digital world this is easier than ever before through both email and social media channels such as Twitter and Flickr. You can make the circulation process even easier for your audience by using websites such as Slideshare and Slide.com which offer a quick and easy way to share presentations and video to help you reach your secondary audience and maximise the longevity of your content. Slideshare is also a great way of optimising your content online as it has a high SEO ranking, sending your presentation to the top of the search listings. What’s more if a customer or colleague needs to review the content once it has been presented they can access it easily, removing the need to send FTP links or large files across the Internet. Today’s digital world of high speed Internet and instant messaging will certainly help to ensure that your content isn’t forgotten once the presenter leaves the room, however this is only half the job. You need to be confident that your presentation slides will communicate your key messages without the presenter, and handouts will support the communication at this stage. They shouldn’t be a duplication of the presentation slides but should act as a narrative document that contains all of the key facts and figures that you discuss during your presentation. This will help your audience to recall key information once the presentation is over and they are back at the office and will also make the content more powerful for those that weren’t there first time round.