How to Make Presentations Memorable

presentation skills


Ready, Set....

Go.  It's time to make the big presentation.  Maybe it's to a prospective client that could be huge for your business, maybe your boss is in the audience, or maybe it's for a group of people you look up to and admire.  You've got your PowerPoint slides, practiced a number of times, and you know the material.  You're ready to go.  After the presentation, you have a nagging feeling...

Could it have been better?

People tell you that you did a good job, but you're not sure you believe them.  You covered all the points you wanted to, but it felt like there was something missing.  But what?  In our public speaking class, we cover ways to make presentations memorable, a few of which are the use of flip chart drawings, anecdotes, and quotes.

So what do I do?

Use a visual aid other than PowerPoint.  (See Kinds of Visual Aids, McGraw-Hill) Speakers sometimes use flip chart drawings instead of a PowerPoint slide.  So what?  We have become so accustomed to PowerPoint and seeing a computer screen every day in our lives.  But a flip chart drawing is unique.  There's always a very quiet stillness in the room when a speaker draws a quick flip chart diagram on the spot.  It takes a leap of faith on the part of the presenter, but it's amazing how captivating it can be for an audience to see a human hand creating an image in the moment, as opposed to clicking a button and seeing a computer generated image appear.  One presenter I know will prepare his PowerPoint slide deck, and then take out of one his slides from his slide deck and turn it into a flip chart drawing, blacking out the projector screen and walking over to the flip chart on the other side of the room.  It's a nice change of pace and gets the attention of the audience.

Another way to add impact is by including anecdotes.  An anecdote is a short story, usually for humorous affect.  It doesn't need to have an underlying meaning.  It's just something that can break up a presentation, especially one that is heavily technical.  The saying for Ronald Regan was that he had an anecdote for everything, and he did pretty well for himself.

Quotes are another great way to spice up a presentation.  I've seen a number of presentations from a woman who commands attention by having her first slide be a quote from a philosopher, or other well respected famous person.  She reads the quote, which is a great idea.  I've seen countless presentations that have an excellent quote, but the presenter never references it, leaving the audience to interpret in on their own.  This particular presenter gives the audience an overview of how the quote relates to her topic at the beginning of her presentation, references the quote in the middle, and then ties in how her main points related to it in her conclusion.  This is a great example of how to utilize a quote so that it will make a lasting impression on the audience.

Flip chart drawings, anecdotes, and quotes are just a few ways to make presentations memorable.  The Fearless Presentations® class not only covers how to make presentations memorable; it also takes the participant through various exercises to put participants at ease, while delivering presentations with the key ingredients to make them stand out.   By practicing these techniques  in front of the group, the skill sets become engrained by the end of the public speaking class.

Chris McNeany
Chris McNeany is a Vice President and Instructor for the Fearless Presentations® course. He is based in Los Angeles, California, but he teaches classes in San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle as well.