As a presentation design agency, it’s often assumed that our role is routed in the visual side of things. But before our design team fire up Photoshop and PowerPoint, our team of storytellers craft the presentation content from start to finish.
Would you illustrate a book before it was written? Or choose the score for your Netflix series while you were still writing the script? That’d be a strange thing, right? Here’s how to craft your presentation content.
What is presentation content?
When we talk about presentation content, it’s much more than the words that appear on your slides. In fact, we try to keep these to a minimum. The content on the slides should re-inforce what the speaker is saying, not distract from it. If your audience are reading your slides, guess what? They aren’t listening to you. A huge proportion of our presentation content goes into the speaker notes. Speaker notes are prompts that you can refer to keep on track, but your audience can’t see.
How important is the presentation content?
Content is the essential supporting structure of any presentation. The building blocks, the skeleton, the linchpin: content is the driving force of an outstanding PowerPoint presentation. The importance of getting the presentation content right can’t be overstated. It’s what the audience will remember once the presentation is over. It’s what activates peoples’ imaginations and what motivates them to take action. And that’s what you want, right?
But where to begin? How do we create the type of exceptional presentation content that first inspires our designers and subsequently (and more importantly) our clients’ audiences? What are the best practices when it comes to creating presentation content?
Have no fear, Buffalo 7 is here. We’re going to teach you how create content that leaves a lasting impression on those who hear it.
When writing presentation content or speaker notes that will have optimal impact, you have to focus on three things: language, structure and the audience.
The language of presentation content
When it comes to the language of presentation content, clarity is paramount. The content must be clear and concise, with each point seamlessly following on from the previous one.
While we are telling a story, we want the story to be told in the most comprehensible style. We want people to understand, absorb and remember, so it’s important to use words that are familiar and to keep your word choice simple. The audience don’t have time to check the dictionary.
To keep them engaged, you’ve got to express your complex ideas in short, simply-constructed sentences and be straight to the point. No faffing about, no waffling.
Audiences love content that’s qualified with facts, statistics and figures. For example, if you’re making a statement about potential savings or ROI, make sure you’re backing it up with a real-life case study or survey. Don’t bore them with spreadsheets full of data and don’t get too technical. Keep it short, keep it snappy and keep it relevant to the point you’re making. Doing this will ensure that the audience believe in the credibility of your presentation content and will help establish you as a reputable speaker.
Quoting from thought-leaders and famous figures can also add further credibility to your presentation content. Opening with a quotation can reaffirm the validity of your argument, launch an idea and strengthen it. Choose your quote wisely and you’ll make your presentation stand out and appear more professional.
The structure of presentation content
Presentation content is what informs the design work. Before our designers add their artistic finesse and bring our clients’ presentations to life, the content has to be finalised. Without content to accompany the design work, even the most skilful and innovative designs, graphics and illustrations can seem pointless. The content will inspire designers and give meaning to the design work, so getting it right before the design process begins is important.
The arrangement of presentation content will form the structure of the presentation as a whole. Make sure your content follows the order of a story: a beginning, a middle and an end. This might sound simple, but storytelling for presentations is something you may not be familiar with. We’ve spoken about how to structure your presentation before, but to recap, here’s a summary of the main elements:
1) The beginning– Establish a connection with the audience by describing a situation they’re familiar with. No, don’t tell them a tale about how you saw a man about a dog; start with something striking that will immediately capture their attention. Introduce a problem and then introduce your vision of what could be. Set up your ideas for the solution you’re going to give them.
2) The middle– Explore the problem you’re addressing. Move back and forth between what is and what could be. Summarise your points on the slides in short, concise statements or with just one word. The speaker notes are where you’ll delve into the details and tell the story. You want the audience to focus on what the speaker is saying, not the amount of content on the slides, so keep the number of words on the slides to a minimum. In order to make your points memorable, it’s important not to give the audience a cognitive overload.
3) The end– End with a summation of how much better their lives will be if they adopt your ideas. Make sure your call to action is clear, and wrap up your presentation content with a statement that will linger in their minds long after the end of your speech. This is your culmination, your final opportunity to make your message heard. Tough, we know, that’s why we leave it up to our storytellers.
The audience the content is addressing
Personalising the presentation content to the audience you’re addressing is key to ensuring the message resonates with them. Consider the kind of people they are, their attitudes to what you are talking about, their hopes and their fears.
The more you consider the kind of person you’re speaking to and tailor your presentation content to them, the better chance you have of achieving your outcome.
Who are they? What is their attitude to your topic? What is their communication style? What do they already know about this topic? What are their anxieties? What are their aspirations? There’s lots you can consider and lots you can extrapolate from to fortify your presentation content.
Remember, you’re the expert and your audience are the learners. Content is all about communication: telling a story, conveying your message, sharing your knowledge and offering your solution. Designing your slides before your content is finalised is back-to-front and upside down. Trust us on this: content comes before design. Promise.