Mar 10 2019
collection of business illustrations

How to transform your presentation into a story

by Ariella Cohen

It’s time to ditch the bullet points and try something new! Learn a few tips for how to transform your presentation into a story that captures your audience’s attention.

Nobody enjoys sitting through a presentation that is slide after slide of text. Presentations with dull, text-only slides will always end up boring your viewers. Even if you’re presenting on a serious, important topic, there are always a few ways to turn the data and details into something more interesting, and keep your audience actively engaged and paying attention. Ready to learn how to transform your presentation into a story that moves your audience? Here’s a few helpful tips!

Try the 10/20/30 rule

You may have read other things we have written in the past about this rule- that’s because we’re ALL about it. If you’re presenting on a big screen to a large audience, this is a strategy worth trying. Try to limit your presentation to 10 slides, 20 minutes, and no smaller than 30 point font (27 or 28 are probably fine though in our opinion). By giving yourself some guidelines to stick to, you will be focused on making sure each slide and every minute packs the highest level of impact and only including what is really important. This does not mean you should cram as much text in as you can, but rather to only include the text that is critical, and aside from that, engage your audience with attention-grabbing visuals.

Practice best bullet point practices

Sometimes there is no way to escape it- you just have to include some information in the form of bullet points. Here and there, that’s totally fine to do! But if you do plan on including some slides with bullet points, try to stick to this bullet point list of guidelines:
-Keep them short– bullet points should be brief, not long sentences or paragraphs
-Emphasize the beginning– like in this bullet point, so readers can skim easily
-Number them– if you have many, number them so readers can keep track
-Stick to one topic– each bullet point should be to-the-point about one piece of info
By following these best practices for making your bullet points audience-friendly, you will be able to streamline the story you are trying to tell while including all of that essential information.

Be a storyteller

When you are giving a presentation, you are not just presenting facts to an audience. Regardless of what the subject is, you are there to tell people a story. Whether you are presenting a research project, a business proposal, a training session, or anything else, there are a few things to include to make it flow like a story. First, start off with an introduction about who you are and what the presentation will be about. Then tell the story itself- dive into why this project was important to do, what you wanted to know, or why there was a need for this new product or business.

Tell the story of what made this a worthwhile topic to present. Then, tell the story of what you did about it- built this device, planned this specific research project, found this relevant information. Finally, all great stories have an ending and your presentation should be not different. Explain what the findings or results were, and what can be learned from them. Explain how this business idea is helping people, or how the training materials taught can help your employees help customers. The goal is to have your audience leave the room or meeting with a clear takeaway that they understand and will remember.

Know that visuals are everything

Humans are visual creatures by nature. We are much more likely to react to images that text. Given that, your presentation should be completely full of visuals. For some, that means exciting images and videos, special effects, gifs, and all kind of color combinations. For others who have more conservative presentation needs, there are still ways to incorporate visuals that help tell a story. Instead of writing bullet points, try creating engaging charts and graphs. Bar chart and line graphs are often necessary, but consider including one of hundreds of other infographic designs that shed light on another area of your presentation in a format that the audience can easily consume.

Choose content wisely

When creating a presentation, be careful not to fill it with full paragraphs and long sentences. Presentations are different than articles, emails, essays and briefs. They are meant to summarize information. Choose each word wisely, and don’t use long, difficult words. Stick to short, simple language, and keep every sentence, bullet point, and subtitle short and to the point. No matter how great your text is, people are never going to want to read all of the text on a slide, so make things easier for them by only including what they absolutely need to know about the topic. Finally, make sure to use a template or theme that fits your content. If you’re presenting about business, pick a business template that really fits your message.

Interact and engage throughout

The key to not keeping your audience bored during a presentation sounds too simple to be true- just engage them. But it is that simple, and it works. Paired with succinct, clear slides and enticing visuals, the final piece in giving a great, memorable presentation is interacting with your viewers throughout. Start off your presentation by asking a question and hearing what your attendees have to say.

As the slides progress on, continue to slip in ways that your audience can participate. Before showing a slide with data on it, ask them what they expect the results to be. After showing a video clip, ask what they thought of it. Include a small activity if you have a couple minutes. Even if you’re short on time, there are always a couple minutes in the presentation to ask if people agree or disagree with something.

Do you have other suggestions for how people can transform their presentations into engaging stories their audience will love? We would love to hear them! Send us an email at info@emaze.com or reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.