Presentation Tips

What Are the Elements of a Powerful Presentation?

Samantha Pratt Lile
July 23, 2021
 min read
What Are the Elements of a Powerful Presentation?What Are the Elements of a Powerful Presentation?
Table of Contents

You worked so hard designing your slide deck— or maybe not as hard if you used— and you most certainly want your audience to receive your message. How frustrating would it be if instead, people walked away from your presentation without following, understanding or remembering anything you had to say?

Want to ensure you design a stellar presentation that is effective, engaging and memorable? Sure, there are some elements common to all visual presentations… but we won’t bore you with instructions for designing another frankendeck. Check out the following 16 elements of powerful presentations:

1. Engaging icebreakers

Start on an engaging foot and break the ice with your audience through a brief activity. You could ask a fun icebreaker question such as, “What movie most closely resembles your life?” or, “What vegetable would you be?” and encourage conversation. Or, you could conduct a short quiz or poll related to your presentation topic. 

Another way to break the ice with your audience is by playing a short and simple icebreaker game like, “Have you ever?” or “Two truths and a lie,” playing with either your entire audience or smaller groups seated together.

2. Visual storytelling

Humans are social creatures, and our brains respond to stories more than facts alone. Mankind has used storytelling to pass its wisdom and lessons to future generations since the days of painting cave walls. At the same time, we also respond to visual information— the largest parts of our brains are dedicated to visual stimuli, after all. 

Combine the two concepts, and the resulting visual storytelling is one of the most effective ways to attract an engaged audience that remembers your message long after your presentation ends. Visual storytelling elements like photos, video and infographics more effectively tell your story leaps and bounds than the spoken word and text alone.

3. Eye-catching images

Just as visual storytelling makes for an engaging and memorable presentation, eye-catching images are ideal for attracting, retaining and refocusing audience attention. Look for images with bright and bold colors, interesting angles or exciting subjects, and your audience members’ eyes will stay glued to the screen.

4. Data visualizations

By including statistics, facts and other data in the elements of a good presentation, you provide your audience with the evidence it needs to trust your message— if you can give the data meaning. Designing slides with too much text and too many numbers is a good way to put your audience to sleep. 

Data visualizations, however, tell the data’s story. Present your data through elements like bar graphs, pie charts or pictograms. users can include all sorts of engaging infographics in their presentations with ease. Just input the data and watch as artificial intelligence designs the perfect infographic to illustrate it.

5. Animations

Eyes are attracted to movement. It’s why video is increasingly surpassing text in popularity for receiving information. You can add movement and draw your audience’s eyes back to your presentation by animating your slides. One of the simplest animations to add are the transitions between slides, but users can even animate their infographics and add motion to various elements of individual slides.

6. Simplicity

If you present slides that are overcrowded or cluttered, nobody is going to want to look at them for very long. Not only that, but your audience probably can’t digest that much information from a single view. Keep your slides simple and tidy. It’s better to add more slides than to add too many elements to each. users need not fear poorly designed slides. Every time new content is added, artificial intelligence adjusts the layout of the slide based on principles of great design recommended by the pros.

8. Music

Music isn’t one of the more common elements of presentations, but it should be. After all, listening to music engages practically every neural subsystem. According to Johns Hopkins research, however, music embedded throughout a visual presentation “can sustain attention, while slipping the content into long-term memory.” 

Dr. Ronald Berk, now an author and keynote speaker, says even background music, “can increase attention levels, improve retention and memory, extend focused learning time and expand thinking skills.”

9. Videos

Video is another effective element of presentations that attracts your audience’s attention and interest. Video elements can capture expert feedback if they can’t appear in person, illustrate activities that a still photo just can’t capture, demonstrate how products are used and, of course, add eye-catching movement to a slide deck.

10. Audience immersion

What better way to capture an audience’s attention than by making them a part of the show? Audience interaction is an extremely effective element of a good presentation. 

Invite audience members to get involved with your presentation, whether by inviting a single viewer to participate or by designating smaller groups or teams to interact together. Audience immersion can be achieved through activities like games, challenges, demonstrations or even short skits.

11. Props

One classic element of a good presentation is the addition of props. Whether you pull out humorous objects that help to illustrate your topic, or design visual aids in addition to your slide deck, the use of props almost always adds some extra pizzazz to an otherwise ordinary presentation.

12. Orderly and cohesive designs

A powerful presentation will include slides designed with order and unity. Every slide in the deck should look like it belongs with all of the others. At the same time, you can select color palettes and typography that support the mood, tone or topic of your presentation. users easily can ensure their slide decks feature orderly and cohesive designs by customizing a theme or brand style guide for every presentation so that elements like certain fonts, colors, margins and footers automatically are added to every slide. Just add your favorite design elements on a master slide.

13. Clear goals

What do you want your presentation to accomplish? If audiences are receiving your intended message, what does your presentation accomplish? 

Be sure to define goals for your presentation, and only add content to your slide deck that supports those goals. Do you simply want to inform? Or do you want to persuade your audience to share a viewpoint or change a behavior? Determining your objective is a key element of a powerful and effective presentation.

14. Calls to Action

Don’t take any chances that your audience will misinterpret your message or fail to understand the objective of your presentation. Cut straight to the core of your message with a clear call to action. 

To ensure your call-to-action is effective, be sure to start with a strong commanding verb, use words that insight emotion or enthusiasm and provide your audience with a reason they should take the suggested action.

15. Strong closing slides

All of your hard work designing a powerful slide deck might be for naught if your presentation doesn’t feature a memorable ending. One of the most effective ways to achieve a strong conclusion is by including an end-of-presentation slide. This slide could include a summary, a call-to-action, a joke or an interesting quotation that will leave audiences pondering long after you’ve finished presenting.

16. Hooks and earworms

Interjecting hooks in between key points of a presentation is an effective way to refocus an audience’s attention. Meanwhile, ending a presentation with an earworm can keep people thinking about your topic for hours or days. While they serve different purposes, hooks and earworms are very similar and each can be accomplished by examples such as a funny story, a joke, an insightful quotation, a fun fact or a rhetorical question.

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha is an independent journalist, editor, blogger and content manager. Examples of her published work can be found at sites including the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Buzzfeed.

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