Spencer Waldron
Spencer Waldron 5 June 2018

How to de-clutter and drive engagement with your presentations

Spencer Waldron discusses how marketing and sales representatives can de-clutter and drive engagement with key presentations

It can be very easy to fall into the trap of information overload in presentations. With huge amounts of data available, it can be tempting to try and get across too much at once, filling your presentation with text and bombarding your audience with a pre-planned speech. However, this is not the best way to engage prospects.

Research from Harvard University has shown that presentations tend to be viewed poorly if they have too much text and fewer visuals. Harvard also found that audiences tend to make a ‘positive decision’ following a presentation that is less text-heavy.

There are many ways you can reduce the clutter, increase conversions and build presentations that engage and persuade.

1. Every image must serve a purpose

Make sure every image in a presentation serves a purpose. Simply adding images to an already crowded presentation isn’t going to help.

Images should replace text and provide context. Picture your presentation as a house being constructed – the main foundations are the core arguments you are getting across, then each room can be populated to give the more granular detail. The image used for each part should be directly tied to how its section is distinct.

Consider exactly what image will do this first, and think about the text as a secondary resource that will supplement it, rather than the other way around.

Finally, this is most important at the beginning and end of a presentation – first and last impressions will directly influence how the rest of the presentation is perceived.

2. Movement and flexibility is key

The tools we choose to use when communicating with prospects have a quantifiable effect on results. Using presentation tools that use ZUIs (zoomable user interfaces) are more persuasive and engaging, and receive a more positive response from their audience.

A zoomable interface goes hand in hand with a canvas-style approach to presenting. This means that your presentation will put all of the information front and centre, and you can then choose where to zoom in and out of in a non-linear fashion. Rather than having static slides one after the other, this means you can adapt the presentation on the fly, based on an audience’s needs.

3. Keep it conversational

Conversational presenting is one of the best ways to build engagement beyond the visual presentation itself. It is based on adapting your presentation to the audience you’re speaking too.

The audience should be allowed to guide your presentation, and this will increase engagement, encourage information retention, and drive conversions. It builds on the ideas of flexibility and movement - that Harvard university highlighted as key to driving engagement - that a canvas approach allows.

Conversational presenting can be as simple as asking the audience what they want to talk about, and simply starting from there.

By showing respect for their time, intelligence and individual requirements, and engaging in conversation, you become a collaborator. Someone your audience is working with, and not simply someone who is selling a product.

4. Clear, colourful and crisp

People are more likely to engage with a presentation that is clear, colourful and crisp. You will want to be bold and striking without coming across too strong. Finding a balance is ideal, but consider what you are presenting and how you want your audience to feel when you’re finished. For example, filtering red tones into a pitch about new ideas will make your audience more excited and inspired.

5. Making an emotional connection

A combination of the right imagery and a conversational approach builds toward the goal of creating an emotional connection with your audience. The final piece of the puzzle is storytelling.

Wherever your presentation goes, you should have an overarching narrative in mind of the story you want to tell. It can be told in different ways for different audiences, but always have sight of it to keep yourself on track.

The storytelling approach allows you to take your audience on a collaborative journey, encouraging involvement and engagement with your presentation from beginning to end.

Old habits do die hard, and it can be easy to slip into bloating a presentation with too much text and losing sight of the bigger picture. Planning your presentation beforehand, using the right imagery and tools, taking a conversational, collaborative approach are all as essential as the content of the presentation itself.

Without these foundations, a presentation can crumble before it has even begun but with them, audiences will be engaged, emotionally connected and ultimately, persuaded.

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