Why do presentations still suck?

Elevate your communication skills.

So what was it that made her stand out that day? It must have been the way she expressed her thoughts and feelings. She almost perfectly followed the TED talks principles. We’re talking about carefully crafted speeches that use scientifically proven methods to captivate the attention of the audience.

What makes great presentations

Pitches, research reports, ideation outcomes, design presentations or status updates. Most of us are deeply involved in making presentations at work. But yet there are a lot of significant companies where using 4:3 powerpoint slides is the standard. To change this old-fashioned way of working, we divided the presentation process in four:
1. Presentation prep
2. The presentation
3. Presenting
4. After the Presentation

1. Presentation prep

At TED, the preparation of an important talk takes months: each speaker is being trained and guided in speaking tactics and stage performance. A coach continuously checks the structure so that the presentation is a living document. Don’t prepare your presentation just before the talk. An excellent presentation document is carefully crafted; it should support your message and bring your talk to live. Another tip: Email the agenda to the audience in advance, manage the audience’s expectations, and outline the expected outcome. But the most important thing before a presentation is that you rehearse and practice until you feel confident to go and speak to your audience.

2. The presentation

We bet all of us have once been part of an audience during a tiresome presentation given by a dull and uncharismatic c-suite person.

Isn’t it crazy how people who deliver speeches to hundreds of people daily are not aware of their audience?

Through user-centered design, we’re building usable and desirable products, but yet we see so many designers fail to inspire the audience when presenting these user-centered designs. So before every presentation you give, think about who you are making it for!
One of the most important things is the flow of your presentation. Great speakers understand this very well, they vary their pace and tell real stories to give context to the points they want to emphasize. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we can use to communicate. But the term has been overused so much that it’s lost its meaning.

If you can’t communicate emotions through stories, people will simply forget your talk. And that’s what happened to 90% of the talks we’ve seen at the UXinsights event.

3. Presenting

Stop stressing out for your big pitch but embrace the moment, focus your energy and go for it. Because if you don’t, you’ll waste your chance to make an impact. Breathe deeply, step on the stage and give it your best. And never, ever apologize for being nervous. It makes you vulnerable and you let the audience judge you as a person instead of judging your work.
Also don’t move too much and choose four to five people to make eye contact with. These persons are your anchor, they will feel needed and will interact with you during the presentation.

4. After the presentation

You’ve made it. The presentation is done and your audience is motivated and ready to act upon your solutions. To finish strong and really make a difference, some points are crucial.
You should always put your findings into context and include actionable next steps. Tell the audience what has to be done by whom to guarantee success. After the presentation, send a debrief to everyone who attended and thank them for being there.

The takeaway

When crafting presentations, you should take into account the following things:
- Prepare and rehearse
- Mind the audience
- Think of each and every slide
- Tell stories to bring your talk to life
- Use proven communication techniques
- Summarise and finish with call-to-actions

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Clockwork Belgium

Clockwork Belgium

The UX & Service Design Agency of the Ordina group. Creating better experiences through a human-centric, value-driven design process.