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How To Build the Perfect Presentation in 7 Steps


In the field of marketing, knowing how to deliver the perfect presentation is a must. Whether suggesting potential research partners to senior level execs or showing how far research results can push the company forward to stakeholders, a presentation is one of the most effective ways to get your point across. So if you’re in the midst of building a presentation from scratch, simply follow this seven-step guide for a stress-free process and flawless results. Your perfect presentation is only minutes away…


Step One: Clarify Your Message

Before you even begin the presentation process, you need to define your central message. Although this step seems intuitive, it is often overlooked.  Without a clearly defined message, your presentation will come across as unfocused and your audience will most likely tune out. Begin the presentation process by answering the following questions:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What message are you trying to convey?
  3. What would you like your audience to take away from the presentation?

Step Two: Create An Outline

After defining your message, take five to ten minutes to sketch out an outline of your content. Zone in on key points. Decide what order you want to present these points. Are there specific images or charts that will help illustrate your message?  If so, make a quick note of them. A logical structure will help your audience visualize where you are going.

Step Three: Choose a Theme

It is of utmost importance to choose a consistent theme for your presentation. The theme is what ties your presentation together. When creating a theme, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Color: Color selection is extremely important. Research on this topic indicates that colors are deeply tied to emotion as well as information retention. Take the time to make sure the colors you choose for your theme reflect the tone of your presentation. In general, cool colors work best for backgrounds, while warm colors pop as objects.
  • Font: Sans-Serif Fonts are considered the best for presentations. These include, but are not limited to, Arial and Helvetica. It is usually best to choose one font and use it throughout your presentation. And don’t forget to make sure the size is large enough to read from the back of the room.
  • Cookie-Cutter Themes: As you are already aware, PowerPoint offers tons of cookie-cutter themes. If you do decide to use an existing theme as a starting point, make sure to modify it!  The themes in PowerPoint have been used over and over again and chances are someone in your audience has seen them before.  It is always best to either create your own theme from scratch or sufficiently modify an existing theme.

Step Four: Add The Right Amount of Content

This step should be relatively easy since you already created an outline during Step Two. However, when adding content, it is important to be concise and use words sparingly. A presentation is not a book. If you can get your main point across in a sentence, don’t use paragraph. It is also important to keep your slides clean. Balancing negative space with content is a must. Don’t let your message become lost in slides that are visually cluttered.

Step Five: Complement Content with Quality Graphics

There’s nothing worse than watching a presentation with poorly selected, ill-formatted graphics. Most people are extremely visual. Taking the time to select clear images will help your audience connect with your presentation.  Including photographs of people is especially impactful. Think about it: Do you identify more with a person or a stick figure with a question mark above its head?  Stick to the following guidelines and you’ll be sure to engage your audience:

  • Please say “no” to clip art. It’s unprofessional and just looks silly.
  • Do NOT stretch images. There is nothing worse than an image that  has  been stretched sideways to fit the layout of a slide. Hold down the shift key when resizing images to keep the image in proportion.
  • Choose high-resolution photos. The search engine Bing has a great feature which allows you to choose the size, layout, and color of the image before you even hit the search button.  You can also use a stock website for high-quality images. A blurry image on a slide really distracts from the main point.

Step Six: Eliminate Superfluous Data

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen slides with massive tables or charts where the font size is so small you can’t even read the labels, let alone follow a trend in the data. Overwhelming your audience with numbers is not impressive; it’s distracting. And creating a chart that has too much unnecessary data can confuse your audience, because they can’t figure out what you are trying to say. Take the time to only show data that’s necessary to make your point.

Step Seven: Show a Friend

When you think you’re finally done with your presentation, present it to a friend or coworker. Sometimes slides and concepts that are clear to you may not be clear to your audience. Taking the time to deliver your presentation to a friend provides an opportunity to tweak and improve it. Getting a little feedback can go a long way.

This post is part of the Perfect Presentation Series. For more posts on how to create  amazing, captivating market research presentations, simply check back every week.

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