4 useful tips for your next great presentation

Have you ever attended a ‘talk’, a ‘lunch-and-learn’ or some format where a speaker delivers a presentation brilliantly? The monologue is crisp, entertaining and insightful. The slides are impressive. It’s obvious that she or he has put in considerable effort. 35 minutes later it’s all over. The audience files out and gathers for coffee.

Conversation turns to the presentation everyone has just observed. As you listen to your colleagues, it strikes you that each of you appears to have a completely different recollection of the presentation. Was there something you missed?

Some of you recall the speaker’s last point, whereas you seem to recall some of the speaker’s opening words. The rest is a little hazy. Why? Can a speaker decide what the audience retain? Here are four tips to ensure your presentation makes an impact.


1. make your points 1,3,2

Research shows that people tend to recall the first words and the final part of a speech or presentation. In scientific terms, this is known as the concept of ‘primacy and recency’.

Imagine that you wish your audience to recall three key points, you would do well to ensure that your most important point is the first point you make, your second most important point is last and your third most important is second. Professional speakers are aware of this and shape their presentations accordingly.

2. it’s as easy as abc (or 123)

The same research shows that three key points is roughly the maximum number that people carry in their conscious mind at any one time. Let’s take an example to illustrate the point. Imagine that you tell your flatmate that you going to the shops to pick up some olive oil. She calls down to you that you need some eggs. That’s two items. Just as you turn the door handle, you remember to buy some salt. That’s three items.

Closing the door, you recall finishing the orange juice and milk that morning. That’s now five items. Will you remember all five by the time you get to the shop? Better write the lot down. Had there been only three  items, it would be easier to remember them. “A, B, C”. “1, 2, 3”. It’s perhaps simplistic but – as a rule –  three key points is a nice easy number. It’s also the most that people can recall without effort.

3. watch your hands

So, we know that we wish to make three key points and to have the audience retain them. But how are you going to make specific words ‘stick out’ among all the other words in what amounts to a 20 minute presentation complete with slides, video etc. Thankfully, it is easier than it sounds.

Firstly, by changing the cadence (slowing down) your voice to enunciate and emphasise, you are indicating that particular words or phrases are part of a key point. Secondly, by using the same hand-gesture at each key point, you are giving your audience a signal that what you are saying is essential and worth remembering.

4. don’t over-rely on slides

What about the information on the wall behind you? That’s right, the slideshow. In my experience, the most competent speakers DON’T build their presentation around powerpoint. They use a minimum of statistics and graphs when ‘social proof’ requires it. They use images to tell a story as these paint powerful images in people’s subconscious minds. That said, they also can deliver a presentation without images should technology fail them. No HDMI lead? Incorrect adapter? Battery dead? It happens. Remember it’s all about the message. Not the slides.

communication training that works for you:

These simple tips (and others) help my students when I use them as part of my communication training solutions. In a world of social media platforms and distraction-technology, it is vital that you can make the kind of impression that has instant impact and wins business. As part of this module, you and your team will master a model that allows students to rapidly and confidently build a powerful presentation without the need for slides.

Author: Mark
Hi! Did you enjoy this content? I can help business such as yours to leverage the very best from your people through world-class training and coaching. Just call me on +44 7743 912 492.

related news items

how can I help you?

Please contact me now on +44 7743 912 492 for a thoughtful and helpful perspective. You can also request a call back using the form below.

Request a call back from me

Call me today! Just tell me what you want to talk about and we can set up a call! The menu on the right might give you some ideas. Something else you have on your mind? Great! Let’s talk!

I would like to discuss: