Delivering a presentation that packs a punch is increasingly difficult in 2022.
According to recent studies…
- Most people tune out of presentations after just 10 minutes.
- 80% of professionals admit that they shifted their focus from the presenter to their phones during the last presentation they attended.
If you don’t want your audience to play on their phones while delivering your speech, you need a solid structure and a story.
And this is how to create PowerPoint presentations that make you unforgettable: by using a presentation outline to solve this problem.
In this post, you’ll learn exactly:
- The only 8 storytelling formulas you’ll ever need for a presentation that gets results
- How to make a good presentation with PowerPoint: the structure from start to finish
- 17 proven secrets to make your presentation stand out
PLUS, you’ll also get…
- A “bulletproof” checklist to make sure you get the most out of your presentation
Let’s start at the beginning.
What’s a Presentation Outline and Why Should You Care
Every time you want to reach a destination, you have two options.
- You can wander around with fingers crossed that you get there.
- You can use a roadmap that will tell you exactly how to reach that goal in the shortest, easiest way possible.
If you’d prefer Option 2, and want your presentation to reach its destination, which can be…
- Educating an audience
- Persuading investors to fund your vision
- Inspire or motivate some type of behavior in people (ie make more sales)
- or even entertain the crowd
…your roadmap is a presentation outline.
A presentation that follows the right structure gives you two main benefits.
It Gives You Confidence and Freedom
It’ll make your speech organized.
You won’t be worrying about what to say next, and you’ll have the freedom to improvise.
It Keeps Your Audience Engaged
Every idea you present will follow a logical order making it easy to understand for your audience.
And best of all, you won’t miss any important points.
8 Types of Presentation Outlines
Before you start outlining your presentation, you have to select the right formula.
The formula will dictate your presentation’s style, message, and structure of storytelling.
The “What If…”
This formula creates a gap between “what we have” and what “we could have”.
Using this formula, you need to start by explaining the current situation (problem).
Then move on to explain how life would look like without the problem (solution).
During your presentation, you alternate between the two.
- What we have
- What could be
- What we have
- What could be
…and so on.
This should lead to a conclusion that will be your call to action.
This type of outline is great to follow if you prepare a long presentation for educational purposes.
It takes your audience on a journey from where they are (problem) to where they want to go (solution).
- Start by telling them where they are and where they should be going
- Layout the roadmap of how to get there
- Explain the first step
- Then continue with the next steps
- Acknowledge how far you’ve come close to the destination
- Arrive at your destination and tell the audience how can they repeat the steps on their own
Use this presentation type to explain how your idea (solution) could improve a situation (problem).
It’s great for pitches, both online and offline.
- Start off by introducing the problem
- Raise curiosity by teasing the solution
- Show the audience what options they have
- Achieve the end result by using a boring/expensive/unimaginative/difficult solution
- Achieve the end result using your inspiring solution
- Tell them why option “B” is the only solution that makes sense
- Suggest them to take immediate action to start using your solution
The Hero’s Journey
This is probably the most famous storytelling structure of all time.
Use this formula to put your audience in your hero’s shoes, and lead them to discover your product or service as a solution.
- Start off by introducing the hero (who’s very much just like the people sitting in your audience)
- Add a challenge, which leads to an inevitable crisis
- Make the hero hit “rock bottom”
- As he loses all hope, make him discover the solution (in an unexpected way)
- Then make him find his way back to happiness while unrevealing skills and abilities he never thought he had
- Make the hero acknowledge what he learned and what he wants to do with this newfound gift (teach it, sell it, give it away)
This formula is a little more theatrical than others, so I’ll give you a practical example using it:
- Introduction: The hero is an average person who’s overweight. He tried all sorts of diets, but can’t seem to lose weight.
- Crisis: One day the doctor tells him that his condition is getting worse, implying serious health concerns. He starts to get depressed, and he starts to eat even more to mask his pain.
- Rock Bottom: He puts on another 15lbs in a short amount of time. His wife can’t handle the situation emotionally. She leaves him, as she couldn’t imagine herself going through losing her husband.
- The Discovery: One day he’s watching a documentary on Netflix. He hears about a weird serum that ancient Aztecs used to boost their metabolism. This led to rapid weight loss according to recent discoveries. However, this serum doesn’t exist anymore. He finds the producers of the show and gets in touch with the researchers who made the discovery. They give him the recipe, which he takes to a food engineer, who creates the serum for him.
- The Rise: The serum proves to be working, his body fat starts to melt away. His doctor says his condition is stabilizing. He’s thinner and happier than ever.
- The Lesson: He wants to share this amazing finding with other people like him. And now you can purchase this amazing serum…
Does this story sound familiar?
The “And, But, Therefore”
Invented by Marine Scientist Randy Olson, this formula is great to keep the audience engaged and entertained.
It’s great for long presentations, and it goes like this…
AND keeps the story moving.
BUT introduces a conflict (some sort of tension that naturally causes our mind to want a release from – keeps the audience’s interest).
THEREFORE leads to a consequence.
This is also known as the “situation-complication-resolution” formula.
Here’s an example:
I ran out to my car because I was late for work – BUT I realized I left my car keys inside – THEREFORE I ran back to the house – BUT I couldn’t go in, because I was in such a hurry, I left my house keys inside too and locked myself out – THEREFORE I thought I’m going to be late for work – BUT it occurred to me that my coworker promised to give me a lift when I need one – THEREFORE I called him – BUT he didn’t pick up the phone…
And the story goes on.
This is similar to “And, But, Therefore” but it uses an opportunity instead of a problem.
So instead of “but this problem happened”…
You simply introduce options for opportunities that can be taken.
The “Hook, Meat and Payoff”
Similar to the previous types, this formula has three elements.
- The hook: A central idea that teases what’s coming. This can be a provocative statement, story, or question that gets your audience engaged.
- The meat: The body of the presentation. This is where you provide value and make people understand the points you want to make.
- The payoff: The takeaway, is a short summary of what your audience should remember. Use a call to action to get people to participate.
The “Pledge, Turn, Prestige”
If you’ve watched Christoper Nolan’s 2006 movie The Prestige, you will then quickly understand the importance of this storytelling formula.
This is a formula that magicians use to help entertain us and keep us mystified by their powers. However, don’t underestimate the power this formula can do for your presentation. It might take a bit more imagination, but the dividends of that effort pay well.
Here’s how it works and how to make it work in your presentation. And BTW, I am not asking you to perform magic on stage…unless you want to do so.
- The Pledge: This is showing your audience, prospect, customer, or client something normal, something that is ordinary. This could be some product or service that is used or produced on a daily basis.
- The Turn: This is the part where you take that ordinary something and make it do something extraordinary.
- The Prestige: This is the part where you need to make that new ordinary thing re-appear, and do so in magnificent fashion.
Which part of this formula you focus on in your presentation is really up to you as an individual.
How to Make a Good Presentation With PowerPoint: The Structure from Start to Finish
According to Aristotle, the master of rhetoric, you have three jobs to do during your speech:
“Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; tell them what you have told them“
This is achieved by breaking the presentation down to the following elements.
The goal of your intro is to capture your audience’s attention.
To do that, your presentation needs to have a specific purpose and a central idea.
This is a one-sentence statement that needs to answer three questions:
- What is the general purpose of the presentation?
- Who is the target audience?
- What is the end result I’m looking for?
Here’s an example.
“The goal of my presentation is to [persuade] a group of [investors] to [fund my idea of a dating app].”
This is the overall goal of the presentation.
And it generally falls into one (or multiple) of the following categories:
Pick a purpose, then find out who is your…
This is arguably the most important component of your presentation.
If you have access to data, find out as much as you can about their…
- Demographics (age, gender, income level, education, religion)
- Psychographics (personality, values, attitudes, interest)
- Behavior (purchasing behavior, benefits they’re looking for, satisfaction)
- Awareness (how much are they aware of the problem, solution, or product/service that you want to talk about)
If you don’t have access to these, here are a few questions to get you started:
- What are the demographics of your target audience?
- What attitudes do they have?
- What do they want and need?
- What are their pains and fears?
- If you’re offering a solution in your presentation:
- What is the market using currently?
- What are their experiences?
- What do they like or don’t like about this solution?
Lastly, you need to define the…
Context and Content
The content is what you want to say in your presentation.
Your context is the setting or background information you use to pre-frame the talk.
This can be a…
- Commentary of a current situation
Once your specific purpose statement is ready, you can move on to formulate the…
While the specific purpose answered…
“What is your goal?”
The central idea should answer…
“Why does this goal matter?”
It’s a one-sentence statement, and it should come from your specific purpose.
Let’s continue our previous example.
What is my goal?
“…to persuade a group of investors to fund my idea of a dating app.”
… and Why does this goal matter?
“Men often fear rejection, and a dating app could eliminate this problem and give them the opportunity to find love online.”
Make sure to include both your purpose and your central idea in your presentation to make the impact you desire.
The next thing your intro should do is…
Establish Your Credibility
Credibility comes from two factors.
- What you know (knowledge, expertise, experience, qualifications)
- How trustworthy are you (honesty, authority, integrity)
You can showcase what you know by explaining why you are qualified to speak. Using examples of your previous work or showing your work can be powerful ways to establish your expertise and experience.
You could use data or other material that you gathered in research groups that you conducted to show your knowledge or qualifications on the subject matter.
Trustworthiness will come from aligning your beliefs with your audience.
And by speaking with confidence.
If you know what the behaviorial makeup is of your audience, then speaking to them in their language is going to help build authority and trust. But, be conscious to not just speak what you want, but truly walk the talk.
Let’s recap what your intro must have in order to achieve its purpose.
- Have a specific purpose
- Be aimed at a clearly defined target audience
- Provide context and background information
- Have a central idea statement
- Establish your credibility
Before you move on to work on the body of your presentation, there’s one more crucial element to learn.
And that is…
How to Make Your Presentation Flow
Have you ever found yourself losing the point when listening to a presentation?
When you raised your eyebrow and thought…
“Wait a minute. What does this have to do with what he was talking about?
How and why did we jump from point A to G, skipping all steps in between?”
If you ever felt this, it is likely because the presentation lacked flow.
And lack of flow comes from the absence of transitions.
Transitions are the glue that keeps your presentation together.
It guides the audience’s attention from one thought to the other.
The easiest way to add transitions to your presentation is by using “transition words”.
Here are a few to add to your arsenal:
The body is the main section of your presentation.
This is where you deliver your message to the audience.
First, you need to make a point.
These are the claims that you make.
Then, you need to back it up.
These will be your supporting (proof) elements such as…
- Reviews and testimonials
- Search data
- Fact and figures
While presenting you need to stick to 3 main rules.
And that brings us to the…
Here’s what to pay attention to when creating your body section:
- Every point you make should be clear and easy to understand
- Follow a logical order and use transitions between ideas
- Support every claim you make with proof
You hooked your audience in the intro…
You made great points in the body of your speech…
It’s time to bring it home with a conclusion.
Keep in mind that if your conclusion is poor, it could undermine your otherwise successful speech.
But if you make it right, your talk will have a powerful, lasting impact on your audience.
Here are 6 ways to make your conclusion strong.
1. Recap Your Main Points
- Go through 3-4 main points that your presentation covered.
- Provide context and show how your claims support your main argument.
- Keep it brief, because if you go into detail again, you’ll lose your audience.
2. Repeat the Central Idea
- End your speech in a full circle by repeating the central idea.
- If you started with a story, finish it.
- If you used a question, answer it.
3. Use a Call to Action
- Tell your audience exactly what to do next.
- Be clear, straight to the point.
- Use active voice.
4. Use a Quote
- Use a quote that ties to the central idea of your presentation.
- Make sure it’s relevant to your audience.
- Avoid the very common, famous, overused quotes.
5. Use a Thought-Provoking Question
- Ask a rhetorical question that will leave your audience pondering
- Make sure it’s relevant to your presentation
6. Use a Visual Message
- Use a strong image, animation, or video to have a lasting impact
- Leave it on after you’ve wrapped up your speech
- Use your visual message to reveal an opportunity
- Include a timer if you want to add scarcity
- Recap the main points you made
- Repeat the central idea of your speech
- Make your presentation memorable by using a strong quote, or visual message
- Use a thought-provoking question to inspire your audience
- Use a call to action to make your audience take the next step
17 Secrets to Make Your Presentation Stand Out
Before you start polishing your presentation, let’s recap your plan of action up to this point.
- You’ve selected one of the 8 Presentation Outline Types
- You’ve learned how to grab your audience’s attention and establish your credibility in your Introduction. As well as creating a…
- Specific Purpose Statement
- Central Idea
- You’ve built the body section of your presentation using best practices
- You’ve crafted a strong conclusion using 6 powerful techniques
All of these are important to make your presentation unforgettable.
If you skipped any of these steps, click on the bullets above.
This will take you back to the corresponding section.
Now, onto what makes your presentation stand out…
There are 2 key areas that you should be focusing on.
These will have the biggest impact on the end result of your presentation.
In other words, these will get you the best results for your investment (whether it’s your time, or money if you hire a communication consultant or presentation designer).
These things are:
- Communication (what’s your message, how you deliver it, and to whom)
- Design (a visual guide to get your points across effortlessly)
How to Improve Your Communication
What do you think, which of these two offers would sell better?
- Offering expensive meats at a vegan market
- Offering water to dehydrated tourists in the desert
The answer is obvious, and this brings us to the first point:
Look at Your Presentation as an Offer
Because regardless of what your presentation is about, your audience has to invest either…
To make this offer a no-brainer, you have to offer something that your audience wants.
And to do that, you need to…
Have a Better Understanding of Your Audience
Remember the question I asked you above about the offers?
Then let me ask you this –
- Coming up with a product, then look for people who might want to buy
- Ask people what they want to buy, then give it to them
Again, the answer is obvious, and this is how you should look at your presentation.
The better you know your audience, the better you can understand their…
- Motivations (pains, fears, desires, needs, and wants)
- Terminologies and jargons
- Prejudices and skepticism
- Horror stories and things they’ve been through
- Curiosity (what gets them excited)
Once you learn all this, you can deliver an outstanding presentation, and make your audience feel like…
“Wow! This person better describes how I feel than I can!”
Enthusiasm shines through a presentation.
So does the lack of it.
When you’re enthusiastic, not only will it increase your confidence…
Which helps immensely with stage fright…
But it also signals you strongly believe in what you’re saying.
Which makes your audience better trust you.
Work Your Tone and Avoid…
Uhm… uh… you know…
It’s a tough habit to break but it’s mandatory.
Fill words are time-wasters.
It gives the impression that you’re not prepared (and that’s why you’re looking for words).
And about tonality:
Psychology research suggests that people respond better to deep male and high female voices.
Get the Audience Involved
Most presentations get boring (especially long ones) because they’re one-sided.
And the problem with that is…
People love to have their opinions heard.
The way you can involve them and make your presentation more interactive is simple.
Here are a few ways
Ask them to “Raise Your Hand if…”
These can be used anytime during the presentation but it’s best used in the beginning.
Studies suggest that the first few minutes of a presentation is the timeframe when the audience’s attention drops.
By using these questions, you can shake them up and get them involved.
You can also use increasingly difficult questions, then use the results to make a point.
Ask Them to Interact on Social Media
This is useful for large events.
Create a hashtag for your talk and ask your audience to use it.
This can be done at the beginning or at the end of your presentation.
Besides getting them engaged, it also promotes your brand.
Ask Them to Repeat What You Said
According to a study by the University of Montreal, repeated information is easier to recall.
And the best way to make your audience repeat what you say…
Is by telling them to do so!
This technique is best used for repeating details that are important.
These can be names, dates, numbers… anything.
Keep in mind that the repeatable section should be up to a few words only.
Otherwise, your audience will have trouble remembering what you said exactly.
Make Your Presentation Entertaining
People love to be entertained.
Even if your subject is purely informational, entertainment can get your points across most easily.
As well as make the audience more comfortable.
Jokes are a great way to introduce entertainment, but you can also include 1 or 2 “light-hearted” slides.
There are two things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you don’t overdo it. Turning your presentation into stand-up comedy is far from ideal.
- Ask for feedback from colleagues, family members, or friends. This is crucial because even if you find something funny, your audience might not. And a bad joke does a lot more harm than good.
Work on Your Timing
Timing is a double-edged sword.
If you use it wrong you can rush through your presentation…
Running out of breath…
Or even worse…
But, if you use it right, it makes your presentation flow smoothly.
More importantly, pausing at the right time is a great way to use emphasis and make a strong point.
Use More Proof Elements
Proof elements not only make your presentation stand out but they…
- Demolish skepticism
- Proves your claims
- Builds trust with the audience
- Raise your credibility
Proof elements have two types, based on which side of the brain it appeals to.
- Logical (left brain)
- Emotional (right brain)
Which one should you use?
The short answer is both.
Each individual resonates differently with these proof elements.
By using both, you can make sure that you’ll cover the spectrum.
If your presentation is selling a product, service, or idea, use logical proof in the beginning.
Then switch to emotional proof elements.
You don’t want your audience to get analytical when they should make an emotional decision.
“You sell on emotion, but you justify a purchase with logic.” – Joseph Sugarman
Here’s a list of proof elements to use in your presentation.
- Charts and graphs
- Scientific studies
- Logical argument
- Third-party verifications
- Trust badges
- Infographics and visual messages
- Before and after images
- Case studies
- Social proof
- Research information
- Product review
- Press mentions
- Valuable content
- Quotes from public figures
- Admit your faults
- Use metaphors
- Remove hype
- Use jargon
- Add story and empathy
How to Use Data the Right Way
Using data (charts, graphs) is a great way to illustrate your points.
What’s more, it helps to prove your claims.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, when using data.
Make One Point Per Chart
Too much information is confusing, and using a chart that’s packed with it…
Almost guarantees that you’ll lose your audience’s attention.
This is why you should only make one point per chart maximum.
Here’s how to do that.
Before you create a chart, ask yourself the following question:
“What is the single most important piece of information that I want my audience to take away from this illustration?”
The answer you’ll find is exactly what your illustration should be about, and nothing more.
Label Your Axis Clearly
This is crucial for two reasons.
- Every piece of the illustration must be clearly readable from a distance. If the axis labels are tiny, people sitting in the back won’t be able to read it.
- Wrongly labeled axes will undermine your authority in a split second.
To avoid that, make sure that…
- Your labels are visible from a distance.
- Double even triple-check that your axis labels are correct.
Guide Attention using Highlights
Every data illustration has a key takeaway.
Sometimes a turn in trends on a graph…
Sometimes a small segment on a pie chart…
The easiest way to bring attention to the key takeaway is by using highlights.
By highlighting the area where the key information is…
- You help visual learners take in information more easily.
- You help reinforce the most important points.
How to Elevate Your Design
Presentation design has a massive impact on the overall performance of your speech.
Which is why, if there’s a lot on the line…
Like pitching investors for funding…
Or using a sales deck to bring new business in…
You should leave the presentation design to professionals.
But in case your presentation is for entertainment or informational purposes, here are a few tips to get the most out of it.
Stick to Brand Colors
Brand colors bring confidence and positive engagement.
Yet, according to a study by Venngage…
“48% of presenters said that only 25% of their presentations consisted of brand colors.”
To avoid this, simply ask your design department for a brand guideline, style guideline, or even better…
Hire professional designers who’ll design your presentation with brand colors in mind.
Avoid Excess Visuals
Visuals are important.
In fact, a recent survey suggests that…
- 40% of people think visuals are an absolute must in presentations
- 60% say that they prefer visuals on slides
However, you shouldn’t go overboard with it.
Excess visuals are…
- Taking the audience’s attention away unnecessarily
- Don’t add any value to the presentation
- Make the slides confusing
Adjust the Font
Every audience hates it if they can’t read your presentation.
And this happens for two common reasons:
- The font size is too small
- The font type is hard to read
For font size, it’s generally recommended to use 32 points for the headline and 24 for supporting points.
For font type, stick to serif or sans-serif fonts.
Avoid decorative if possible (however, consider your brand).
Here are a few recommended fonts:
And by clicking here you can find hundreds of free fonts to use.
A “Bulletproof” Checklist to Make Sure You Get The Most Out of Your Presentation
- Pick one of the 8 storytelling formulas you’ll use
- The “What If…”
- The Improvement
- The Hero’s Journey
- The “And, But, Therefore”
- The “Situation-Opportunity-Resolution”
- The “Hook, Meat and Payoff”
- The “Pledge, Turn, Prestige”
- Create a solid presentation structure from start to finish
- Introduction – Getting these points in place:
- Specific Purpose
- General Purpose
- Target Audience
- Context and Content
- Central Idea
- Credibility Factors
- Introduction – Getting these points in place:
- Body – Making the heart of your presentation great
- The main points are clear and easy to understand
- Each point follows a logical order and uses transitions between ideas
- Support every claim with proof
- Conclusion – Pick one of 6 Ways to End Strong
- Recap Your Main Points
- Repeat the Central Idea
- Use a Call to Action
- Use a Quote
- Use a Thought-Provoking Question
- Use a Visual Message
- Include any of the 17 proven secrets to make your presentation stand out
- Look at your presentation as an offer
- Add passion
- Work on your tone, avoid filler words
- Get the audience involved
- Ask them to raise their hand
- Ask them to get involved on social media
- Ask them to repeat what you said
- Make your presentation entertaining
- Work on your timing
- Use more proof elements
- Use data the right way
- Make one point per chart
- Label your axis clearly
- Guide attention using highlights
- Elevate your design
- Stick to brand colors
- Avoid excess visuals and use readable fonts
You can easily download this checklist by going here.
When you get the structure right in your presentation it makes it easy for your audience to follow your thoughts, get engaged with your story, and make a logical leap to your desired outcome of choice.
Download our checklist, and if you need any further assistance with your next presentation or pitch, follow this link to learn more about our communication consulting or custom presentation design services.
You can get one of your Free Google Slides Templates, which is fully customizable to your needs. Or, get the PowerPoint version.