How to make a presentation: a beginner’s guide

Presentations are crucial for conveying ideas, sharing information, and influencing audiences, whether you're addressing colleagues, clients, or a large crowd. Mastering impactful presentations is essential for your personal and professional success. Let’s get started.

Planning your presentation

Before you start crafting your presentation, define its purpose. 

Ask yourself what you want to achieve. Are you aiming to inform, persuade, or inspire your audience? 

Clearly defining your purpose will help guide the creative process and keep you on track while speaking. 

Here’s what else to consider about your audience and identifying the ideal presentation format:

Understanding your audience (in four steps)

Here are four essential steps to knowing your audience:

  1. Identify: Determine your audience type.
  2. Research: Learn their demographics and knowledge level.
  3. Tailor content: Adjust complexity based on their familiarity with the topic.
  4. Adapt delivery: Match your tone and style to their preferences and interests.

Let’s take a closer look at each stage:

Who will attend?

Start by determining who will attend your presentation—are they experienced professionals, beginners, or a mix of both? Consider their roles, industries, and reasons for attending so you can tailor your content effectively.

Researching your audience

Keep learning about your audience’s background, knowledge level, and interests. Identify who they are—colleagues, industry professionals, students, or the general public.

Tailoring and adapting

If they are experts, feel free to go into technical details and use industry-specific terms (but avoid overusing jargon). For novices, simplify your concepts and use clear explanations. 

Choosing a presentation format

Prior to picking a presentation format, reflect on your intent and how your audience probably prefers receiving information. Also, consider the tools and technology available to you. Ensure you have the necessary equipment and software to support your chosen format.

Popular presentation format options include:

  • Traditional slide-based presentations are ideal for structured data delivery. This format resonates well with business professionals and academic audiences who appreciate organized, detailed information.
  • Interactive workshops are suitable for hands-on learning and active participation. This format appeals to learners and team members who benefit from practical exercises and collaborative problem-solving.
  • Storytelling approaches are effective for creating a personal and emotional connection. This format works best with audiences looking for inspiration or those who engage deeply with narrative-driven content, such as marketing teams or creative professionals. Still, you can opt for storytelling anytime you want to engage your audience emotionally and make your message more relatable. 

Creating engaging content

Before diving into specific techniques, spend some time reviewing how to develop and support your ideas effectively:

Generating ideas

These crucial steps lay the groundwork for an excellent presentation:

  • Brainstorming and information gathering: consider ideas and gather relevant information to support your presentation's purpose and topic.
  • Use reliable sources: use trustworthy sources and recent data to strengthen your arguments and provide value to your audience.
  • Types of supporting information: consider incorporating current industry reports, academic research, and credible statistics to support your points. 

Capturing and maintaining the audience’s attention

Engaging your audience from the start is vital to a successful presentation:

    • Start with a strong hook: begin your presentation with a compelling opening that immediately grabs your audience's attention. Use storytelling, intriguing facts, or thought-provoking questions to captivate your audience's interest and draw them into your presentation.
    • Combine storytelling and visuals: incorporate storytelling and visuals in your opening to create a memorable experience for your audience. Use anecdotes, images, or videos to set the stage for your presentation and create an emotional connection with your audience.
    • Keep content dynamic: maintain your audience's attention throughout your presentation by keeping the content dynamic and interactive. Break up long information segments with engaging activities (polls, discussions, or interactive exercises, also maintain interest)
    • Use visual cues: eye-catching graphics or well-placed animation can maintain interest and reinforce key points. Visual elements help avoid the monotony of text-heavy slides and keep your audience engaged with the content.

Organizing the content effectively

Thoughtfully arranging your content will vastly improve your impact:

  • Ensuring logical flow: arrange your content to guide your audience through the key points logically.
  • Making a clear introduction: begin with a clear introduction that broadly outlines your main points and objectives.
  • Simplifying complex language: as you move into the body of the presentation, break down any complex info into smaller, digestible pieces using simple language and visual support like charts or diagrams.
  • Smooth transitions: to help guide your audience effectively, use clear and simple transitions like "Next, we will discuss...", "Now that we have covered...", or "Let's move on to..."
  • Using the rule of three: try limiting your key points using the rule of three, such as three main benefits, three supporting facts, or three action steps, so the audience can easily remember your core message.
  • Strong conclusion: include a summary and a call to action or takeaway that reinforces your message.

Incorporating visuals and images

Visuals and images can significantly enhance your presentation's appeal:

  • Choose appropriate visuals: for example, a bar graph can show sales growth, or a video testimonial can highlight customer satisfaction. Select visuals that best represent the data or message you want to convey.
  • Avoid text-heavy slides: avoid dense slides that can overwhelm your audience. Instead, use bullet points or infographics to convey information succinctly and keep the audience engaged.
  • Ensure visual quality and relevance: make an effort to ensure your visuals are high-quality, easy to understand, and complement your speaking points. Ensure graphics reinforce your message and add value for your particular audience.

Making your presentation persuasive

Incorporate persuasive techniques will make your presentation more compelling: 

  • Involve storytelling: use storytelling to create a narrative that resonates emotionally with your audience, such as sharing a personal anecdote or a case study that illustrates your point.
  • Employ emotional appeals and social proof: feature social proof, like testimonials from credible sources, to build trust. For example, include a testimonial from a satisfied customer or an endorsement from a recognized expert in your field. Or appeal to your audience’s sense of purpose and responsibility by emphasizing how their actions can positively impact their company's bottom line, the lives and well-being of employees, customers, or the broader community.
  • Use the power of repetition: repetition helps reinforce your key points. and reinforces your message, but overdoing it can feel redundant and boring. Instead, vary your delivery. Choose different ways to present your main ideas, such as through anecdotes, statistics, or visuals, ensuring they stick in your audience's mind without getting tiresome.
  • Highlight benefits clearly: highlight the advantages of your ideas clearly, such as increased efficiency or cost savings. Use specific examples to show how your ideas can positively impact your audience.
  • Provide clear calls to action: include a call to action that encourages your audience to take the desired next steps, whether implementing a strategy, making a purchase, or following up with you for more information. Make your call to action specific and easy to act on.

Using effective presentation techniques

  • Employ storytelling: use storytelling to craft a compelling narrative that resonates with your audience. Stories evoke emotions and make information more memorable.
  • Inject humor: humor lightens the mood and creates a positive connection with your audience, making your presentation more enjoyable and memorable.
  • Use interactive elements: weave in interactive elements such as live polls or Q&A sessions to sustain engagement and allow your audience to feel involved in the presentation. They also facilitate comprehension and retention of essential information.
  • Encourage participation: actively engage your audience throughout your presentation by prompting them to ask questions, share opinions, and contribute insights from their own experiences. Participation fosters a sense of involvement and makes the presentation more interactive.
  • Foster collaboration: to ensure active participation; promote interaction by incorporating activities like small group discussions or live polls. These opportunities for engagement and collaboration will make your presentation more memorable and impactful. 

Avoiding common presentation mistakes

Be aware of these common presentation pitfalls so you can avoid making them:

  • Reading directly from your slides—disengages your audience and undermines your credibility
  • Using text-heavy slides—distracts from your spoken points and overwhelms the audience.
  • Speaking monotonously or too softly—makes your presentation dull and uninteresting.
  • Failing to make eye contact with your audience—disconnects you and diminishes the impact of your message.

Effective delivery techniques

Mastering public speaking skills

Develop your public speaking skills to deliver your presentation with confidence and impact. Practice speaking clearly, at a steady pace, and with enthusiasm. Intentionally pause to emphasize key points and allow your audience time to process your message. Maintain eye contact and use specific gestures, such as pointing or hand movements, to reinforce your points.

Using body language and voice modulation

Your body language and tone of voice are crucial. Stand tall, maintain an open posture, and use gestures like open palms to underscore key points. Vary your tone, pitch, and volume to add interest and convey emotions. Highlight important words with emphasis. Check that your facial expressions match what you’re saying, such as smiling when discussing positive outcomes or expressing concern while discussing serious topics.

Making use of presentation tools and technology

Enhance your delivery with presentation tools and technology. Use multimedia elements like videos, animations, and sound effects for a multi-sensory experience. Or, keep it simple with especially striking images to convey your points. Above all, get familiar with your tools.

Practicing and rehearsing the presentation

Practice your presentation multiple times before you plan to deliver it to help refine your content, improve your delivery, and build confidence. Seek feedback from colleagues or friends and incorporate their suggestions to improve your presentation further.

The last card

Let’s recap. To create an effective presentation, start by defining your purpose and understanding your audience. Choose an appropriate format, whether traditional slides, interactive workshops, or storytelling. 

Generate and organize engaging content, use visuals to enhance impact, and incorporate persuasive techniques like storytelling and emotional appeals. 

Practice your delivery, using clear speaking, body language, and voice modulation, and avoid common mistakes like reading from slides. Following these steps, you can confidently deliver a presentation that captures and maintains your audience's attention. 

And if you aren’t sure where to begin, need to get unstuck, or feel lost while creating a presentation, you can always turn to Pip Decks’ Storyteller Tactics to help you tell the right story at the right time.

FAQs

What are the five basic steps of presenting?

  1. Planning: define your purpose, analyze your audience, and set your goals.
  2. Content creation: generate ideas, gather information, and organize your content effectively.
  3. Design: choose an appropriate presentation format, incorporate visuals, and utilize persuasive techniques.
  4. Delivery: master public speaking skills, use effective body language and voice modulation, and leverage presentation tools and technology.
  5. Practice and refinement: rehearse your presentation, seek feedback, and make necessary improvements.

How do I make a PowerPoint presentation quickly? 

  1. Select a template: choose a PowerPoint template that aligns with your presentation's theme and audience. Templates can provide a starting point for your slides.
  2. Customize slide structure: modify the template by adding or deleting slides as needed. Consider the flow of your presentation and ensure the structure makes sense for your content.
  3. Add images: enhance your slides with relevant images that support your message. Insert images by selecting "Insert" > "Pictures" and choosing the desired image file.
  4. Include speaker notes: write speaker notes for each slide to guide your presentation delivery. Speaker notes can provide additional context or reminders of key points.
  5. Integrate animations: select an object on a slide (such as text or an image) to add animation, then navigate to the "Animations" tab and choose various animation options. Preview animations to ensure they enhance your presentation without being distracting.
  6. Apply transitions: transitions occur when you move from one slide to the next. Go to the "Transitions" tab and select a transition effect to add transitions. You can also adjust the duration and other settings for each transition.
  7. Incorporate audio narration: to include voice narration, you can record your voiceover directly within PowerPoint. Go to the "Slide Show" tab, select "Record Slide Show," and follow the prompts to record audio narration for each slide.

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