7 Keys to a Powerful Presentation

There I was, presenting to a room of my peers, completely and utterly mortified. This was the largest group I had ever addressed, and I totally blanked. I was only a minute into my talk and already had no idea what came next.

I still remember the sea of eyes locked on me as anxiety blurred my mind and burned in the pit of my stomach. All of my preparation…the carefully crafted quotes and feverishly researched material…totally gone from me. Opportunity, wasted.

Then the most horrifying and embarrassing moment of all—my 5th grade teacher asked if I needed the notes from my desk. “No, I don’t want my cue cards on Monarch butterflies. I’d rather just disappear.”

This is my earliest memory of public speaking, and the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of redemptive mastery.

Here’s the lesson that I, unfortunately, learned early in life: most presentations disappoint. 

They’re stiff, boring, inauthentic, self-centred, unclear and worst of all, forgettable. That’s probably why many of us hate the idea of public speaking—we’d rather not look like that!

However, for those of us who want more for our presentations… to leave the pack of fumbling 5th graders behind and become rock star orators… we need two things:

  1. Practice: to build skill and confidence
  2. Insight: into what really works

I can’t help with the first, but I can definitely help with the second.

Since those early days of grade 5, I’ve presented more times than I can count, and I love doing it. It’s not because I’m special—trust me.

I’ve had many big presentation failures. And whatever success I’ve had so far is simply because I’ve learned to deliver presentations that feel special.

As a result of my experience, I firmly believe that anyone with enough grit, insight and practice, can grow to present with power.

How have I learned so much?

First, I’ve made a habit of seeking out powerful presentations and presenters. Ones that provoke laughter, tears, thunderous applause and dramatic life changes. In many cases I went just to soak up the awesomeness of the presenter.

I’ve also seen (and delivered) the complete opposite. Talks that produce glazed eyes, scrunched faces and wide yawns. Painful, but great for learning.

I’ve spent the better part of 15 years studying psychology, sociology, marketing and public speaking. 

I’ve read books, listened to podcasts, attended events, taken courses, and practiced every method I could find. All in an attempt to master the power of presentations.

Why? Because I’m obsessed with meaning. And I believe the effective delivery of meaning makes all the difference.

In my pursuit to become an effective speaker, I’ve identified what I believe are 7 key elements of a powerful (if not magical) presentation. Unfortunately, delivering something great with these principles is more hard work than actual magic. Sorry to disappoint. 

In fact, you might even think some of these are obvious. Even so, have you mastered them?

The truth is: you’re human, and so is your audience. And because all humans share basic psychological traits, you can apply these universal principles to deliver a powerful, memorable presentation.

Ready to level-up your speaking game? Let’s dive in. To start, here’s a quick look at all 7 keys:


Key # 1 – The Base: 
CARE & PURPOSE

Powerful presentations are built on a bedrock of care and purpose.

Every audience wants to know you care. Not about YOU and all the reasons you deserve their praise and adoration—that’s a fast track to rejection. Instead, they want to know you care about THEM and their problems.

Think of yourself as a guide, not a hero; as a friend, not a god. We’ve all witnessed ego-driven presentations that centre around the glorious wonders of a divine speaker who has graced us with his or her presence (insert eyeroll here). It’s unpleasant for everyone, except maybe the speaker.

I’ve suffered through countless sales presentations that begin with 20+ slides about the company’s vision, mission, history, big buildings and cool boats (not kidding). Seriously, who cares?

I’ve also witnessed many public speakers open with long monologues of their credentials and expertise. In most cases, it’s just too much.

While not showcasing your greatness at the start may seem counterintuitive, the old saying by Theodore Roosevelt is true: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The members of your audience want to know you put them first, and that you aim to solve their challenges and improve their lives. Yes, you need to showcase your expertise, but you can’t do it at the expense of warmth and caring.

When you truly care about the people in front of you, and your message puts them first, they feel it. And they’re willing to open up to you because of it.

How do you care? Through empathy. It’s your natural ability to understand and feel what others are feeling. And it’s your first key to accessing the hearts of your audience.

Psychologists Paul Ekman and Daniel Goleman define empathy in three parts: Cognitive, Emotional and Compassionate.

Empathy Part 1: Understand their perspective.
Cognitive Empathy means taking on the perspective of your audience and imagining how it must feel to be in their shoes. While you don’t feel it yourself quite yet, you do intellectually get a sense of the situation through their eyes. And this new perspective allows you to identify their pain, fear, frustration, hope, love, excitement, or any other related feeling.

Now that you understand what they’re likely feeling, you can begin to generate those feelings for yourself.

Empathy Part 2: Feel what they’re feeling.
Emotional Empathy, then, is what takes you that one step further. This is where you genuinely share in their feelings. The raw emotions of your audience become a real physical reaction inside your own body. You don’t just feel badly abouttheir situation (that’s sympathy); you begin to feel as though it is your situation.

Creating this emotional empathy takes effort for many of us, and you generally have two options. First, you can visualize yourself in their exact, or similar, situation. Think deeply about your own business losing money, your career at a standstill, or your family in distress. Use your imagination to access the same emotions your audience must be feeling, by relating to them.

What if you can’t relate? That takes us to the second method of generating emotional empathy. Let’s say your audience is a group of parents whose children are sick, but you don’t have kids of your own. And to make it even more extreme—you don’t really even like kids.

While you can’t put yourself in their exact shoes, you still need to find a bridge to Emotional Empathy.

First, use Cognitive Empathy to identify what they must be feeling. For example: fear of losing a loved one, guilt for not doing enough, anger over the injustice, helplessness, sadness, and the list goes on. Now think of your own life and find personal experiences with those feelings.

Remember when your favourite pet passed away (loss), when you lost the big game for your team (guilt), or when a close friend was fired without cause (anger). Embrace those feelings and let them wash over you as you think about your audience and their situation.

To be clear, I don’t believe any of these above examples could begin to match the struggle of a sick child. However, it’s not a matter of trying to match (or compete with) your audience’s pain. Rather, it’s about finding those same feelings, at whatever intensity you can muster, in order to empathize and care.

Here’s a simple hack. Search online for “What it feels like for [PERSON] to go through [SITUATION]”. Read an article, watch a video or find a memory of that feeling in your own personal history.

Empathy Part 3: Feel the need to take action.
Finally, we move to the last type: Compassionate Empathy. This is where the rubber hits the road and you feel moved to take action. You care so deeply that you want to help, and your number one motivation becomes a desire to serve your audience.

If you follow these steps to empathy, you’re sure to care (at least a little bit more than before) about the group you’re about to serve.

Only at this point can it become a little bit about you.

Once you genuinely care for the others in this equation, you can choose a purpose for your presentation. What outcome do you want as a result of your time with the audience? Do you want a project approval, to make a sale, to change a belief, to mobilize them into action?

Think of it this way: what do you want them to know, think, feel and/or do differently because of your presentation? 

Remember: the ultimate purpose may serve your needs, but the path is lined with care and service to your audience. And this makes the outcome a win-win.

In summary:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Empathize with their lives and what they want
  3. Identify your desired outcome: what you want them to know, think, feel and do differently as a result of your presentation.

Key # 2 – The Core:
UNITY & MEANING

Many presentations underwhelm the audience because they lack one critical factor. Even the world’s greatest insights fall flat without it. What is it? Meaning.

If you don’t get meaning right, you’re dead in the water. It feels like you’re talking to a wall, eyes are down on phones, everyone looks confused or disinterested and audience members begin their own side conversations.

Why? Because you haven’t given them a reason to care. And if they don’t know why your content matters, they simply disconnect.

When you do get meaning right, on the other hand, everything changes. People lock in and stay with you to the end. You’ve captured their hearts and the reward is their attention.

Meaning’s power is three-fold.

a) It gives your audience a reason to care.
We’re all tuned into W.I.I.F.M. (what’s in it for me?) nearly 24/7. So, unless you give your audience a big reason to listen to the end, they’re not interested. Show and tell them WHY you deserve their attention.

b) It turns a group of individuals into a single unit, all seeking one thing—together.
We are social beings. As a result, your audience is looking around to see how others feel about you and your presentation. If people around them appear disinterested or dismissive, they’re likely to join the others (and oppose you, too). 

You’re often an outsider, so unless you get the group onto one page with you, you’ll face an invisible resistance.

Alternatively, if you gain a critical mass of supporters, the laggards will jump on board with you. Speculation begins to dissolve and a unifying energy builds as the group becomes one. This is group alignment, and it’s truly powerful. It lowers barriers in the audience and pulls out your best.

In my experience, the fastest path to group unity and alignment is by activating a common identity, value and/or worldview that everyone believes in. In other words, it’s about unlocking a sense of “us” as a collective in that moment. 

Why does it work? Simple: we all want to be part of something awesome.

c) It grafts you into the group as a trusted and valued member.
I’ll say it again—none of this is really about you. And unless you can become one of the collective, you’ll struggle for acceptance and open ears.

(True celebrities get exceptions, sometimes. But that’s because we already feel connected to them…even though we’re not.)

A common meaning lifts the conversation above you, creating a bigger idea (nay, dream) that unites you with the group. Once you’re grafted to the audience, they’re ready for your perspective.

Tips to create meaning:

  1. Create—or connect with—a shared identity (who we are) or worldview (how it is)
  2. Speak to common values (what we want)
  3. Paint a clear picture of today’s negative situation, contrasted against a hopeful vision of the future (where we’re going)
  4. Don’t open with slides all about you
  5. Tell stories of others who have accomplished what your audience wants
  6. Remember… it’s not about you, unless that makes it more about them

Key #3 – The Goods:
QUALITY CONTENT

Content matters, plain and simple. Here are just a few reasons.

a) Some personality types place great value on knowledge and expertise.
These people are dazzled by facts, figures and new insights, or a perspective that makes them think. If you can’t wow them with content, they’ll think you’ve wasted their time.

b) Novelty and discovery trigger dopamine.
When we discover something new, our brains light up and make us want more. Interesting content keeps your audience engaged.

c) Everyone wants to know you know your stuff.
This goes into the next element (passion & mastery), but have you ever seen a presenter fumble through weak content? Or good content he or she obviously didn’t create, know or care about? What’s the point?

d) You’re in the business of solving problems. 
Effective solutions are built on quality content. If you don’t have a unique perspective or some kind of valuable insight, then your audience doesn’t need you.

e) It’s the only path to results.
A successful presentation generates an outcome. If the outcome requires agreement, a decision or a change of behaviour, you may have to shift a belief (more on this later). And you can only modify a belief if the content is compelling, both rationally and emotionally.

Tips for building quality content:

  1. Take the time to truly understand your audience members and their problems
  2. Identify at least one key insight your audience likely doesn’t know
  3. If something is truly common knowledge (and not just obvious to you because you’re an expert), add a unique perspective
  4. Package your facts in stories and visuals
  5. Test your content on others

Key #4 – The Reasons to Believe:
PASSION & MASTERY

Your audience needs to know you care about your topic—to the point you clearly love and know it inside-out. Some people lead with emotion (heart) first, while others lean towards knowledge (head). You need both.

Passion connects with those who value emotion and enthusiasm and creates a sense of emotional credibility. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about content, but they first need to know you’re fully engaged. You don’t necessarily need to jump around on stage (unless that’s your thing), but you do have to showcase your interest (preferably love) for the topic.

Next, mastery proves you’re intellectually credible. It shows you’re confident in your message, and that confidence feeds your audience’s faith in you. However, be careful not to mistake quality content for mastery. If your audience doesn’t believe you know your stuff, they will devalue everything you give them.

Picture this: you give your friend a piece of advice you know will work. In fact, you give that advice over and over again, because you see they’re not taking it seriously.

Shortly after you choose to move on, you see that same friend suddenly doing what you suggested. Not because of YOUR advice, however. No, it’s because someone else said the exact same thing (JUST ONCE!) and it’s like your friend heard it for the very first time.

Like it or not, that friend had reasons—whether conscious or subconscious—to believe the other person, and not you.

Or consider this: I bet if you think about it, you’re more likely to accept the opinion of your boss or a senior co-worker over that of another colleague.

When a person you admire speaks, it feels easy to believe and agree with them. Not because you’re sucking up and trying to please. Rather, your brain has lifted them up in power and authority, and so lowered your barriers of intellectual rigor and disbelief.

In short, perceived authority and credibility bypass cognitive resistance.

When your other colleague speaks—the one whose credibility you question—their words put you at immediate dis-ease. Everything in you is mounting a resistance and you’re primed and ready to argue away their position. It’s almost as though if he or she believes it, it’s clearly NOT true.

And so, the opposite lesson is, a PERCEIVED lack of credibility breeds resistance, despite the quality of your ideas.

If you want to be heard and believed, you must give your audience the right reasons. But be careful: they don’t want a laundry list of your credentials. Instead, they want clear evidence of your passion and mastery.

Tips for more passion & mastery:

  1. Align your message to the right emotional tone
  2. Practice enough so you can focus less on delivering the right words, and more on delivering the right experience
  3. Get introduced by someone the audience already believes is an expert
  4. Use success stories
  5. Add a little humour

Key #5 – The Mechanics:
BODY & VOICE

Your body and voice deliver a steady stream of information about you and your message. You can have all the right answers, but if your feet are stuck in one place with your hands in pockets, eyes glued to notes, and a wavering or monotone voice, you lose a lot of points.

Your body and voice can pull others in or push them away…keep them engaged or bore them to death…convince them you’re right or call your competence into question.

Here are a few presentation mechanics to consider.

BODY MECHANICS:

  1. Movement
    If you can help it, don’t stay in one place the whole time. 
  2. Gestures & Expressions
    Move your hands and face to match your words and emotional tone.
  3. Eye Contact
    Don’t forget to look your audience in the eyes—assuming it’s culturally appropriate.
  4. Body Language
    It all comes down to owning your space and bringing your message to life.

VOICE MECHANICS:

  1. Volume
    Vary it based on what you’re saying. Go loud to emphasize a point, and quiet to draw your audience in (everyone loves a good secret).
  2. Pace
    Variety is key here too, but I prefer a slower pace. If you go fast, pause often so listeners can catch up.
  3. Pitch
    Go up and down as you speak, because monotone is monotonously boring.
  4. Pauses
    Breaks in speech are powerful when used in the right places. It tells your audience you just said something important, and it gives them time to process your content. It also reengages distracted listeners, as silence communicates something good is either coming or just happened. And no one wants to miss the good stuff (read: FOMO).
  5. Rhythm
    We tap, clap, rock and dance to a great beat because we’re drawn in by rhythm. It’s naturally hypnotic, and it’s a powerful vocal tool. Don’t worry, I don’t mean you need to sing your presentations. Think more along the lines of spoken word poetry—just a sprinkle goes a long way.
  6. Rhyme & Alliteration
    Our brains love things that rhyme and flow effortlessly. It’s easier to process, a pleasure to hear and—believe it or not—more believable.
  7. Repetition
    It helps drive home an important point.
  8. Sensory / Descriptive Language
    It helps to create a visual effect in your listener’s brain, which is far more exciting and engaging.

Key #6 – The Packaging:
STYLE & DELIVERY

Introducing a new idea is hard work, especially if it opposes existing beliefs. Change creates tension, which pushes your audience to find reasons to reject it (and you)… All in order to relieve the psychological discomfort they’re feeling.

How you package yourself and your content can help. It makes your message easier to digest and accept. And while it doesn’t mean changing who you are to make others happy, a mindful adjustment to style and delivery can significantly improve how your audience receives, values and responds to your message. This key ultimately comes down to safety, believability and effectiveness.

For you to succeed, you have to reduce or eliminate the cognitive resistance that separates you and your message from your audience. Safety removes the danger of agreeing with you…which means they won’t feel rejected by their peers for nodding along, nor will they die if they follow your advice. Believability makes it easier to accept your version of reality…because it’s obviously well thought-out and coming from an expert. And effectiveness ensures your message is delivered in a way that resonates and sticks…lest it be forgotten forever.

So what does it mean to package your style and delivery? Great question! I’m glad you asked.

a) Fit with your audience.
It’s unfortunate, but we don’t like hearing from outsiders who seem radically different than us. If your audience perceives that you’re too different, it creates a cognitive and emotional distance that’s only bridged through common ground.

Without that key intersection of relatability, we struggle to connect and accept the outsider’s message. Instead, we instinctively oppose their ideas as irrelevant or dangerous.

Your audience wants to know you’re just like them, but simply further ahead, with the secret knowledge they need to achieve their goals. You can fit with them through clothing style and word choice, or common experiences and beliefs. Are you relatable? Do you feel like one of them? Do you really understand and care about their wants and needs?

b) Fit with your message.
You need to look and behave like your message is true…and that you honestly believe it. Show you walk the talk and live the life you represent. If your message is urgent, then speak with urgency. If it’s health-related, then look like you follow your own advice. 

It’s not about pleasing others. You don’t have to force yourself into a “normal” image according to someone else’s standards. But you DO need to feel believable as an advocate of your message.

c) Story as a vehicle.
Our brains are wired for story. It brings the invisible, theoretical world to life in a way that few other methods can match. And it draws your audience into an experience that uses their imaginations, a force far more transformational than their eyes and ears alone.

This is because imagination is the beginning of understanding and belief. Have you ever heard someone ask, “Can you give me an example?” That’s their brain crying out for an intangible concept to be made real through story.

New ideas are difficult to grasp, making our impulse to ignore or resist them. But once your audience can see, inside their mind’s eyes, they can begin to believe.

Story also allows your audience to relax and take in new information without trying to keep up with a steady stream of facts and figures. And it helps you connect at a deeper level, while you quickly and easily transfer that new meaning and emotion.

This amazingly powerful tool comes in two basic varieties: non-fiction and fiction. If you have the perfect real-life (non-fiction) account to make your point, then use a traditional story and summarize it with a purposeful meaning. Every presentation can benefit from at least one.

However, if you don’t have the perfect non-fiction story to share, don’t worry. The second form—one that most don’t consider—is fiction. But don’t worry, I don’t mean you need to make up stories about fictional characters. I’m talking about VISION: painting a compelling picture of what is yet to come.

With vision, you bring to life a new idea that captivates your audience and delivers meaning in a way that most presentations lack. Saturate your audience in the story of what could be (both positive and negative); not merely what has already happened.

d) Construct moments to create meaning.
Your audience has more than just ears, so don’t rely on words alone—especially if your message is complicated or controversial. Every sense is a pathway for meaning, so use as many as possible.

  • Ears – words and music
  • Eyes – images, videos and objects
  • Hands – exercises, workshops and activities
  • Others – smells and tastes

By piecing together a multitude of sensory inputs, you create powerful learning moments. This works because experiences create meaning—and ultimately, new beliefs. Turn your presentations from information fire hoses into transformative experiences.

e) Make it conversational.
We live in a day when powerful presentations are conversational and warm, not stiff and scripted. Yes, you need to practice and sound intelligent. But you need to speak like you would to a group of friends.

f) Add a little humour.
Almost every audience is open to a little bit of humour. It helps diffuse the opening tension of “Is this worth it?”, putting your listeners at ease to hear what you have to say. It also offers periodic breaks from learning, which helps prevent attention burnout.

As a caution, don’t attempt to manufacture humour by telling jokes. Most of us are not comedians, and a failed joke makes everyone feel awkward. Keep your humour to real life stories and funny observations. And if that fails, it’s better to not be funny than to tell a joke and fail.

Thoughts and tips for style & delivery:

  1. Vocabulary
    Stay conscious of appropriate acronyms, industry terms, grammatical choices, and clichés to avoid. If in doubt, simplify your word choice.
  2. Practice
    Your presentation needs to feel natural, and that only happens when you’ve mastered (not memorized) the material. 
  3. Be YOU
    Don’t force yourself to be like someone else. All you can be is you…but you CAN choose what side of you to bring to each audience. Your personality has range, so don’t think adaptability makes you a fraud.
  4. Stand strong in your message
    No audience wants to feel like you’ll change your message for whoever is listening. At the risk of sounding contradictory, stick to your true style, stand confidently in who you are and don’t apologize for what you believe. The parts you change from presentation to presentation are merely window dressing.
  5. Challenge them
    It’s good to challenge how others think. To fit with others does NOT mean agreeing with them on everything. 
  6. Find someone to model
    Identify someone you believe is like you, but further ahead in their speaking journey. What about his or her style and delivery can you borrow?

Key #7 – The Ease of Consumption:
CLARITY & FLOW

Many novice public speakers focus so much on presentation skills (the mechanics) they forget about the critical role of content design. A charming, charismatic and funny storyteller can accomplish little if his or her content feels like a toddler’s first finger painting. (i.e. A messy blob only a mother could love.)

Confusion, in this case, is the ultimate villain.

In the words of Donald Miller of StoryBrand, “If you confuse, you lose.” It’s as simple (and as challenging) as that. As soon as someone loses track of your message or feels confused by your content, they begin to disconnect. There’s only so much mental energy to give, and when confusion creeps in, that attention tank plummets to zero.

No one likes to feel stupid, so when your presentation is poor, you and your ideas are judged and devalued. Rather than accept fault, your audience secretly blames you. They assume you’re wasting their time or that you’re untrustworthy and incompetent.

The curse of knowledge is often the underlying offender. It tricks you into thinking others know what you know. Your material feels so natural that you struggle to remember others don’t share your level of expertise. So you present as though your listeners are more advanced than they are, and it goes over their heads.

The solution: simplify, clarify and guide your audience through your content in a way that allows their brains to effortlessly process, understand and agree.

KEYS TO CLARITY:

  1. Reduce It
    Distill your material down to one big idea. From there you can use a small sub-set of ideas (max 3) to support and prove your one thing. If you absolutely have to say 10 things, then find a way to group them together into a few small categories. But ideally, just remove the excess and tackle it another time.
  2. State It
    Can you reduce your big idea to a single, memorable statement?
  3. Repeat It
    Once you have a small set of ideas, you have to keep returning to them. Tell them, tell them again, and then tell them again what you just told them twice already… Over and over.
  4. Conclude It
    Don’t leave your message up to interpretation. Your audience spends a lot of energy just trying to keep up, so give their poor brains a helping hand. Every time you make a point, clearly state the conclusion they should take from it.
  5. Show It
    The right picture creates nearly instant meaning that words alone cannot provide. Use visual aids to enhance your delivery and crystallize your message.
  6. Use Stories
    As we discussed above, stories are a powerful tool for delivering meaning in an easy-to-understand way.
  7. Use Metaphors & Existing Knowledge
    How do you describe a food to friend who’s never tried it before? By comparing it to something else – “It tastes like chicken!” New ideas are taught through old ones, because our brains need context. Your audience can’t imagine something new out of nothing, so build on their existing knowledge and experiences. Otherwise your exciting new ideas will stay too foggy (and scary) for their buy-in.

KEYS TO FLOW:

  1. Build a Chain of Logic
    The brain likes to receive new information in the right sequence. When you break the chain with big leaps (no proof), hard breaks (bouncing around) and poor ties (disconnected ideas), your audience gets lost. You need to lead from one point to the next, building a case to the only reasonable conclusion—yours.
  2. Choose Your Path with KTFB (Know Think Feel Believe Do)
    Beliefs drive behaviour. So if you want someone to take a new action or make a new decision, you must install or activate in them the right belief. And you can’t create a new belief without a feeling, or a feeling without a thought, or a thought without the right insights. Only once you identify the right path can you choose the right information to present.
  3. Influence with WUP-DIA [Heart + Mind]WUP-DIA is my personal process for delivering content in a sequence that allows the mind to accept new information.

    The first half, WUP, is about the heart—or the emotional brain. DIA, speaking to the intellect, is the second half, because only once you prepare the heart, can you construct or activate the right beliefs.
    • Warmup– Prove you understand your audience and have the expertise and authority to help (just not by bragging about yourself). Meet them where they are—inside their current situation and belief system—and bring them by the hand. Otherwise, it’s unsafe for most to join you on the journey. Start the conversation at the wrong place, with content they’re not ready to receive, and you risk disaster.
    • Urgency– Reveal the big problem and why it matters to your audience.
    • Proof– Intensify the urgency with proof that it’s bad and getting worse if they do nothing. Also show the positive outcome if they do the right thing.
    • Data– Present information your audience doesn’t know, that will help them think differently about their situation.
    • Insights– Convert the information (data) into a new belief or perspective.
    • Action– Call your audience to take action, now that they feel the problem, know what’s possible and have a fresh perspective. 
  4. Appeal with Why, What, How & What If (i.e. Show Me)
    I learned this tool from Wyatt Woodsmall and Eben Pagan. Different learning styles need different kinds of information to feel satisfied. “Why does this matter?” (purpose for caring). “What does it mean?” (theory and principles). “How should I do it?” (systems and procedures). “Show me examples.” (walk me through it).
  5. Bridge Your Ideas
    Content flow breaks down when speakers move on to a new idea without a smooth transition. Like going from one paragraph to the next in a book, you must connect each thought to the previous one. Otherwise, the content doesn’t flow and your audience members are left to piece it together themselves.
  6. Stack the Beliefs
    As you think about the beliefs you want your audience to take on or activate, consider how big they are. The bigger and more dramatic the change, the more you’ll need to work back to smaller bite-sized beliefs and stack them up to the big ones.
  7. Plan for Objections
    Every presentation is likely to face conscious or subconscious opposition, whether or not the audience has opportunity to voice it. With each idea or insight, consider what objections someone would likely make. This informs the next insight or data point you should present.
  8. Know Your Boundaries (i.e. Stretch, Don’t Break)
    Every audience has danger zones—topics and opinions you don’t have the authority to tackle. These are the areas that, if you attack head-on, will create so much internal dissonance they’re more likely to hate you than heed your warning. As a general rule, if you want to address something highly controversial, you need to build up to it; systematically stretching their beliefs… not breaking them.


Welcome to the Wonderful World of Powerful Presentations

So now you know the 7 key elements of a powerful presentation. 

The bad news: they’re hard work, and they’ll quadruple (or more) the time it takes to design and prepare a talk. Plus, no one will ever fully appreciate how much effort you put into it. A great presentation is gruelling for you, and effortless for everyone else. Sorry for your luck.

The good news: if it was easy, everyone could do it. And you wouldn’t stand a chance of standing out. Apply these principles and you’ll see a dramatic increase in nodding heads, smiling faces and positive outcomes.


BONUS! Get My Personal “Power Content” Building Tool

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But how do you apply them when building your next presentation? Easy! Use my personal content building tool. 

I designed this for myself, because creating presentations is hard work. I wanted a simple tool to guide my thinking and ensure I didn’t miss any critical steps. 

This tool will help you…

  • Make your audience care about what you have to say
  • Identify and dismantle the invisible resistance that doesn’t serve them (or you)
  • Choose the right information to get the result you want
  • Systematically build new beliefs, or activate the ones that support you
  • And more!

Want it? It’s all yours…Just download my free e-book, PRESENTATION POWER. The tool is included as a bonus chapter at the end.

Happy building!

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