The main goal of your presentation is likely to persuade someone. You might be trying to change someone’s mind. You might be convincing them to take action. Or you might be getting them to buy a product. No matter what, your presentation has to be persuasive.
So how can you increase its persuasiveness?
Designing the Presentation
Everything starts with the core design of your presentation, which includes the literal design of your PowerPoint slides and the outline and core writing of your delivery.
- Hire a professional studio. It’s tempting to create the PowerPoint presentation yourself, especially if you know what you want to say, but if you’re not familiar with design fundamentals, your design can end up looking amateurish. It’s much better to hire a professional PowerPoint design studio and make sure your final presentation is clean and polished.
- Do something unique. Your audience has likely seen dozens of presentations like yours, if not hundreds. If you bore them with the same types of slides they’ve seen a thousand times, your message is going to fall flat. Instead, it’s important to do something unique. You don’t have to completely deconstruct the presentation format, but you should offer your audience something they haven’t seen before.
- Include objective figures. Most people are much easier to persuade when you give them objective statistics and numerical figures. For example, it’s not enough to say your product is “really, really good.” You have to say something like, “80 percent of people who use it see a 13 percent boost in productivity or higher.” Try to include more objective data in your presentation if you can.
- Add social proof. Social proof makes people much easier to persuade; if you can convince them that their peers are already on board with your message, they’ll be much more likely to follow suit. Include reviews, testimonials, or examples of people using your product (or joining your movement) to invoke social proof.
- Anticipate objections. In your presentation somewhere, you should anticipate and respond to potential objections. Why would people disagree with your premise? Don’t shy away from this; lean into it. Include the objections you’ve commonly heard in the past and explain why they don’t hold up.
- Keep it tight. People are much more likely to be engaged with a presentation if it’s concise. It’s your responsibility to keep your slides and your messaging as “tight” as possible. That means reducing the number of words per slide, the number of slides total, and striving for the most concise format possible at all times.
- Make it reviewable. Many audience members will want to review your presentation after it’s over. Make sure you plot out and design your slides in a way that makes them easy to comb through and read after you’re done presenting them.
Giving the Presentation
Even the best-designed presentation is going to fall flat unless it has someone charismatic and persuasive leading the charge. So what steps can you take to deliver your presentation more confidently and persuasively?
- Practice. Take the time to practice your presentation. It will fill you with confidence and help you give a smoother delivery. Just be cautious not to over-rehearse, or you may end up sounding robotic and unengaging.
- Use stories and metaphors. People are much more receptive to stories and metaphors than they are to static information, so try to integrate more narrative experiences into your presentation. Can you give an example of how this idea played out in reality? Can you turn your central motif into an allegory that’s much easier to understand?
- Prove your innate knowledge. Your audience will be much more likely to trust you if you seem like you’re knowledgeable—and not dependent on external graphs to read. Take every opportunity to prove your knowledge of the industry, or the subject at hand.
- Go off-slide. Too many presenters end up reading from their slides directly. This makes for a boring presentation and insults the intelligence of your audience simultaneously; they’re perfectly capable of reading these slides themselves. If you want to seem more compelling and more persuasive, you have to go “off-slide” and add new information to the conversation.
- Be ready to answer questions. Hold a Q&A session after your presentation and be ready to answer common questions from your audience. Make sure you’re prepared for some real challenges—and don’t let yourself get blindsided.
Giving a presentation will be stressful no matter what, and even a perfectly persuasive message may fall flat on an audience who isn’t receptive to your message. Try not to become overwhelmed and focus on the variables that are within your control. With the data on your side and a bit of practice, you can deliver a much more persuasive presentation.