Keys to Making Your Business Presentations Sparkle


Are you tired of giving stale business presentations that bore your audiences to the outer galaxy of Ad Nauseam and back?

ad nauseum

Well, we’ve got one hell of an innovative solution to get your company ahead of the pack. After all, you’re a talented, under-appreciated and underpaid genius that just needs to be recognized for your vision and contribution to the work force all these years!

Ahem, sorry. I was just test-driving a new technique I learned at a recent conference. The trick? Tell your audience how boring and uninteresting their present lives are, only to whip them up into a fervor by telling them how they’re part of an innovative solution for a better future!

Alexis and I attended the SOLD OUT Communicators Conference in downtown Portland sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America and the Oregon Columbia Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators of Columbia-Willamette. Scoring tix to this event was like the PR equivalent of getting tickets to the sold out Sasquatch Music Festival – only, instead of throngs of bleary-eyed teens eagerly awaiting their favorite rock bands, this event featured hordes of coffee-crazed communication professionals donning casual business wear and crammed into the main ballroom of the Sentinel Hotel. The focus was on becoming better storytellers to successfully convey messages to your target audiences.

Evita speaking to crowd

Evita Peron, an amazing orator and interesting case study in Nancy Duarte’s talk.

The conference featured great presenters, but the one who stole the show for us was Nancy Duarte, a successful entrepreneur whose business helps companies with oral presentations. She’s also the author of “Resonate: Present Visual  Stories that Transform Audiences.” Her presentation centered around her own empirical research gleaned from famous speeches in recent and distant history, using Steve Jobs, Ghandi, MLK, Evita and, even Jesus to exemplify her points. She says she uses her findings in her work to help companies develop better presentations during oral engagements, and did a fantastic job herself. But why take our word for it?

Check out a TEDx talk she gave on the very subject earlier this year:

Here are some takeaways for an effective presentation, from Nancy’s talk:

        • The most effective way to communicate ideas is through storytelling.
        • At the beginning of any presentation/story you need to establish what is – the status quo.
        • Make the status quo and the normal unappealing. Next, draw them toward a better, brighter future using your idea as a catalyst – what could be.
        • Compare and contrast the  boring/unacceptable present to what could be – and make that gap as big as possible – amplify that gap!
        • Traverse between what is and what could be several times. The great orators did this, but their use of gaps and time varied for their desired dramatic effect.
        • Your presentation should support why your audience should want to get to that new great place.
        • The last turning point is a call to action, but at the very end.

For more:

Nancy Duarte demonstrating the what is/what could be technique.

Nancy Duarte demonstrating the what is/what could be technique.