The Power of Great Presentation Slides

A powerful presentation invites the audience to be part of a movement. It is the moment to touch people and mobilize them into action — to fight for a cause, to buy a product that makes their lives better or, in your case, to fund the project you have worked so hard to build. In Technovation Challenge, the pitch is the moment the teams have to build a relationship of trust with the judges who must believe in the potential of the project and the capacity of the teams to execute it well. A set of slides can be one of the most valuable resources to support your pitch and convince the judges to fund your project. What makes a great set of slides?

Your presentation tells a story.

The most effective set of slides tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. In the 2012 Technovation Challenge National Pitch event, the keynote speaker, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz, gave what he considers the best piece of advice on how to make good presentations: 1) have a big opening; 2) make a strong close; 3) keep number 1 and number 2 as close together as possible.

Your presentation touches hearts.

We are most likely not to forget a story that we identify with. Make use of characters and real examples to create an emotional link with the audience. The following is an example commonly used to promote this idea: “In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, spent a lot of his free time playing cards. He greatly enjoyed eating a snack while still keeping one hand free for the cards. So he came up with the idea to eat beef between slices of toast, which would allow him to finally eat and play cards at the same time. Eating his newly invented ‘sandwich,’ the name for two slices of bread with meat in between, became one of the most popular meal inventions in the Western world”. What is interesting about this example is that you are not likely to ever forget the story of who invented the sandwich. Or at least, much less likely to do so, if it would have been presented in a purely information- based form.

Your presentation is visual.

Take advantage of pictures and videos and get rid of bullet points. Images must reinforce the messages of your speech and transmit feelings that you are otherwise not able to communicate. Show faces, smiles, symbols, graphs, footage, real people. Bring your slides to life!

Your slides are not the center of attention.

Your slides should not overshadow what you have to say. Never put in your slides the transcription of your speech, or meaningless bullet points that simply outline what you are saying. An audience should not have to decide whether to listen to you or read your slides. Effective slides are clean and very, very straight to the point.

Your presentation is consistent.

Be clear about your key message — ensure that everything in your presentation is both consistent with, and supportive of, that key message. Make use of the same style and tone by using the language that feels right for your story.

Slide Credits: Mariana Rutigliano and Garr Reynolds

About the author:

Telling stories is a great part of Mariana Rutigliano’s career. Formerly a journalist, she began her journey by creating her school newspaper and supporting students to identify stories and write the news. After this experience, she joined the global company Unilever’s Marketing department, where she created and watched many boring and cold presentations. She learned about the power of good stories when working closely with planners in the Brazilian communication agency, Aktuell, where most of the strategies were sold to clients in the form of beautifully visual stories. She is currently Iridescent’s Dissemination Director and spends much of her time producing videos and presentations. The objective of her work is to convince people to join the movement of supporting children and youth to move from passive learning and become inventors, creators, scientists, and engineers. Mariana is from Brazil, lives in San Francisco, and is mentoring a Brazilian team of girls that is competing in the 2013 Technovation Challenge.


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