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For an executive, the capacity to deliver an engaging presentation is a fundamental competency. A great presentation can convert a sale, win endorsement from a Board, secure a promotion or inspire colleagues.

On the flip side, a poorly delivered, ill prepared presentation can be costly. It can result in the loss of an opportunity, leave an audience feeling flat, convey the wrong message and waste people’s time (yours and the audience).

Whether it be a presentation to colleagues, a board of directors or a conference, creating and delivering an engaging presentation that delivers a message that hits the mark, preparation, intention and some support here and there are key.

What to avoid?

When faced with creating and delivering a presentation, here are five things we see often. These are my FIVE FACTORS TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

  • Minimal preparation: Minimal time (if any) spent on initial development of the story
  • Lack of a coherent message: A random set of slides pieced together, usually at the last minute
  • Words, words, words… too many words: Slides full of words, which are then read out by the presenter
  • Poor slide design: Incoherent slide titles, long lists, charts that are hard to read; don’t even get me started on animations and smart art
  • Unrehearsed presentations: Lack of effort put into delivery preparation, resulting in presentations that run over time or lack punch

So, now you know what to avoid … where do you start?

3 step approach to creating, developing and delivering kick ass presentations

1. Consider your approach

  • Brainstorm your ideas
  • Create the structure/storyline (start, middle, end)
  • Challenge your thinking
  • Write a script

2. Think visual and compelling

  • Put you slide titles (or key lines) on one page – do they tell a coherent story?
  • Ensure your main message/insight is evident and hasn’t been lost in data overkill
  • Turn words into pictures (diagrams, infographics, images)
  • Challenge each slide. Ask so what? What is the point of this slide? Is the insight relevant?

3. Deliver, Deliver, Deliver

  • Find something (a hook) to bring people in, get their attention
  • Involve the audience in a low impact way. Ask a question like ‘How many audience members …?’
  • Consider other tools to supplement your presentation – handouts, props
  • Rule the slides, don’t let them rule you

Next time you are asked to present, don’t wait until the last minute and avoid starting with PowerPoint in mind. Instead, think about developing your presentation in three phases. 1) Consider your approach and the message you want to leave your audience with; 2) Create a visual and compelling story; 3) Spend time on the delivery and rehearse so many times you are sick of it.


Duarte, N 2008, Slide:eology – The art and science of creating great presentations, O’Reilly Media, Canada

Schaefer, M 2014 10 Fun and Interesting Presentation Ideas, viewed July 2015,