👋 Hi friends–
I'm Tom. I'm a presentation designer and marketing manager. I have an MBA from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and a BA in Political Economy from UC Berkeley. There's nothing more I love than an excellent presentation. Not just the TED talk or Steve Jobs type of presentation. Those are well-known and inspiring.
I love the business presentation. The one is usually delivered in a medium-sized conference room with ten other people, where you bring ten printed-out copies and project the PowerPoint (or Google Slides) onto the large 86-inch TV at the end of the room. The one that starts with the current situation, introduces a problem, walks step-by-step through a brilliant analysis, and leads to a clear recommendation and path forward.
But that's just one kind of business presentation. There are many more. What they all have in common is that they are the culmination of hours of researching, analyzing, thinking, storyboarding, writing, re-writing, editing, designing, rehearsing, and stressing (hopefully just enough to be productive). Then, finally, it ends with the presentation itself, which can build your personal brand, launch new products and services, or even turn around a boring, has-been brand into a billion-dollar brand.
On this blog, I want to share business presentations that inspire me. In addition, I want to share presentations I've worked on that might inspire you. By reading this blog, I know you will learn tips and strategies to better craft and deliver 💯💯💯 business presentations, from preparing the slides to giving the final live presentation in person.
8 Core Principles
in the PowerPoint Picasso Manifesto for Business Presentation Design
1. Data is not enough 📊
Data is wonderful, but it's not enough to tell a compelling story. To truly engage your audience, you need to turn data into stories that resonate and will be remembered. Whether your goal is to get team alignment or pitch a new idea to the leadership team, data should be used to support your story.
2. Storytelling is key 🎬
The art of storytelling is the key to engaging your audience and persuading them to take action. By telling stories with data, you can bring your message to life and create an emotional connection with your audience. Stories should have context, conflict, choice, tradeoffs, and a satisfying resolution.
3. Visuals matter 🖼️
Visuals are a critical component of any presentation. Visuals can help you simplify complex ideas and make them more impactful. For example, you must understand how to use color, imagery, and typography effectively to create beautiful slides. Or when to use a chart versus a table.
4. Embrace the power of design 🖋️
Design is not just about making things look pretty (though we all want that). It's about creating a visual experience that enhances and reinforces your key message and makes the whole package more memorable. To create a great business presentation, you must understand the design principles and how they can be applied to your slides.
5. Know your audience👩💼
To persuade your audience, you need to understand what they care about and what they need. You might think this advice is overused and cliche at this point. But the reason it always comes up is that it is so important. Get this wrong, and the rest of the presentation is worthless. Get this right, and you're more than halfway there.
6. Practice, practice, practice 🎤
The best way to get better at anything is to practice. The same goes for presentations. Even if you are sitting around a big conference room walking an executive through the monthly business review. By practicing your presentations, the delivery will be so much smoother. This isn't about memorizing a script. It's about knowing the content so well that you can confidently speak to it.
7. Learn from the best and never stop 📚
Many great resources are available to help you become a better business presentation builder and presenter. Some of my favorites include books like Everyday Business Storytelling by Janine Kurnoff and Lee Lazarus or Slide:ology and Resonate by Nancy Duarte. By learning from the best, you can pick up tips and tricks to make your presentations that much better.
8. Embrace creativity 🦄
Creativity is not just about being artistic. It's about being innovative and finding new ways to share data, tell stories, and engage. Do something different that will surprise and delight your audience (or reader if your deck is emailed as a PDF). Show them something they might've seen before but in a new way. Reframe the problem. Explore novel solutions. Just do it differently than it's ever been done before.
Concluding thoughts 💡
Let's tell stories with data and engage our audiences in new and creative ways. Let's make beautiful slides and persuade our audiences to take action. It won't be easy, but it will be fun, and it will be worth it.