Being stuck in a room listening to boring presentation with slides that read like a word document is arguably one of the most dreaded experiences in work. Sometimes we just wonder why some people like Steve Jobs can be so good at it and be able to create slides that is a piece of art in itself. We may not be able to become as charismatic as Steve Jobs, but we all have the ability to create better slides, and better presentations that stick with the audience.
1. Craft your story
After your audience leave the room, what is the one key message that you want them to remember? Carefully craft your message and the storyline that leads to and reinforces the message. Another key is relevance - why should the audience care?
You have to believe in your story before you can inspire your audience.
2. Power of 3
Remember the number "3" - one of the most powerful numbers in communications. It's how our brain is wired - we just click better with the number "3". Have you noticed that the power of 3 is built into our daily life? Think about sports events - gold, silver, bronze. People like choices but not many choices.
Stick to the rule of 3 in your presentation - 3 main points, 3 topics, 3 pieces of statistics etc.
3. A picture speaks a thousand words
Let the pictures and visuals do the work for you - rather than rambling on for 3 minutes hoping to make a point with impact. Try to just put one picture on a slide (occupying the whole slide) that can tell the story and leave an impression. Let you audience see the message.
Yes, it will take you a lot of time to hunt for nice images that can tell the story and make an impact, but the efforts pay off. Usually, when the images can touch you, they can touch your audience too.
(extra tip: using only black & white images in your presentation can be very impactful too)
4. Aesthetics - colors & fonts
The key is not to use rainbow colors and 10 different flashy fonts in your presentation. (Although they can work well too if carefully orchestrated) The key is consistency. Pick a color theme (contrasting colors usually work well, e.g. black + red/ black + orange) and stick to it. Font types as well, use no more than 2 - 3 styles in your presentation. And please, avoid Comic Sans.
5. Practice, practice and practice!
Even presentation masters like Steve Jobs spent hours over many weeks rehearsing on stage prior to the launch of a major new product. He knew his presentation inside out, from every font to every image. Some people may say, "I'm just not a natural presenter." Trust me, there are hardly any "natural presenters" out there as the fear of public speaking is the #1 fear in North America, even higher than the fear of death. People aren't born natural. They practice to be natural.