There are only 2 types of presentations

There are only 2 types of presentations
Photo by Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash
In: design

When it comes to presentations, I have realized that there are really only two types: (1) the keynote presentation and the (2) everyday business update presentation. They are vastly different in terms of style, content, and delivery.

In my career as a marketing manager and through business school, 99% of the presentations I have worked on fall into the latter category. Presentation design software (PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, Canva, etc.) and most design templates assume that you're working on a keynote kind of presentation and push your visual design in that direction when you would actually be much better off keeping things simple and your slides clean--unless you are actually working on a keynote presentation for a big audience.

Here's a look at how these two types of presentations differ and why it matters:

The Keynote Presentation

Montreal Design Club
Photo by charlesdeluvio / Unsplash

1. A keynote presentation is typically given by a well-known speaker or expert in the field. Think TED talk or An Inconvenient Truth.

2. The content of a keynote presentation is usually inspirational or thought-provoking, meant to challenge the audience's assumptions and stimulate new thinking.

3. Keynote presentations are often very polished, with high production values and carefully crafted messages.

4. Because keynote presentations are often delivered at large conferences or events, they are usually designed to be memorable and impactful.

5. Keynote speakers typically use a variety of multimedia elements in their presentations, including videos, images, charts and graphs, and even live demonstrations or performance art pieces.

Everyday Business Update Presentation

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com / Unsplash

1. An everyday business update presentation is typically given by an employee, rather than an outside expert. It's often you giving your boss and the broader team an update on the project you've been working on whether it's a new marketing campaign or a new feature in the online store.

2. The content of an everyday business update presentation is usually more factual in nature, providing information about the latest products, services, or initiatives from the company.

3. Everyday business update presentations are often less polished than keynote presentations, and may even be delivered "off the cuff" without as much advanced preparation as a keynote presentation.

4. Because they are typically given to smaller groups of employees or customers, everyday business update presentations aren't expected to be as memorable or impactful as a keynote presentation. But this does not mean that they should be boring!

5. Everyday business update presentations usually make use of fewer multimedia elements, focusing instead on text-based slides or charts and graphs where clarity and insight are key.

Bottom line: Keynote presentations and everyday business update presentations are very different. When designing your presentation, it's important to keep the audience, purpose, and tone in mind so that you can create something that is both effective and appropriate.

For me, it means that the Thursday 10am Pedialyte team meeting is to talk about how illness (specifically the flu) is affecting our sales at Walmart and Target. It's expected that I come in with a few well prepared slides, a clear story, and an action plan. It is not the time to deliver a TED talk about the flu (though that would admitedly be more fun, sometimes).

What type of presentation are you working on? Let me know!

Written by
Tom Tran
Business presentation designer, marketing manager, and goldendoodle dad.
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