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8 Tips to Make Engaging Presentation Slides

8 Tips to Make Engaging Presentation Slides

Is there anything worse than a boring presentation? Probably the only thing worse than being on the receiving end of a boring presentation is knowing that you’re the one putting everyone to sleep with your presentation.

While the success of a presentation relies largely on the speaker’s ability to engage the audience, don’t underestimate the importance of well made presentation slides. Poorly made presentation slides will distract your audience from your word and undercut your credibility. Well made presentation slides, on the other hand, will engage your audience and help drive your words home with sleek, professional designs and impactful visuals.

Here are 8 tips for how to make engaging presentation slides:

1. Addresses a specific audience.

Think about who your target audience is for the presentation. What is the specific problem you are attempting to solve with your presentation? Are you looking to teach your audience a specific lesson? Ask yourself this question first and then design your presentation around answering this specific question.

For example, if your presentation is meant to introduce a new process to your coworkers, you could focus it around the question: How will this process help expedite their responsibilities?

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2. Have a beginning, middle, and end.

A great presentation will have a solid beginning, middle, and end. Begin with an attention-grabbing hook: a question or a scenario. Then, you may want to offer a summary slide of what your presentation will entail (the different sections, the major points you’ll be covering).

Keep text on your slides minimal and your points concise. Each slide should introduce just one concept and serve only one purpose.

End your presentation with a call to action (like asking your audience to follow you on social media, or telling them where they and go to contribute to a cause) or a reflective question (What can they do now with the information you’ve given them?).

3. Use a connecting metaphor.

Using from framing theme or narrative to structure your presentation will not only help your presentation flow, but will also make your points more memorable. Think of the classic hamburger metaphor for how to structure an essay; the buns are the introduction and conclusion and the fillings are the different paragraphs. You can use a similar metaphor (food-related or not) to explain a process, the solution to a problem, or a plan you are hoping.

4. Use a simple design.

Nothing is more distracting than a slide full of too many design elements, extra text, and glaring color choices. Stick to two to three colors at most. Use a white or neutral background. Use a simple font. Don’t overcomplicate the design with too many icons and text points.

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One simple design is to overlay a keyword or key phrase on top of an image. This will give your audience a visual touch point to attach to your information when they recall your presentation.

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    Another is to cut the slide in half, with some key text on one side and an image on the other. Keep text to only a few points or a short quote―don’t try to stuff a whole paragraph onto the slide.

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      Your entire slide could even be a picture, if you want. When it comes to text on presentation slides, less is definitely more.

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      5. Keep text to a minimum.

      We’ve probably all had that teacher that puts everything they say on their PowerPoint slides and then sends it to the class afterwards. If you’re a person who sees attending class as optional, you probably love this teacher. But we can agree that this isn’t the most engaging way to deliver a presentation.

      If you give all of the information on the slides upfront, your audience are more likely to focus on the slides than on what you’re saying. But if you use only a couple of keywords or phrases to drive home your point, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say.

      6. Use pictures as the focus of your slides.

      The most engaging presentations are highly visual, so take advantage of that and use beautiful, good-quality pictures. Look for pictures that reflect not only the theme of what you’re saying, but also the tone. For example, if your presentation is about how to be more productive, the images you use should inspire hope and happiness in your audience. That means you wouldn’t want to use images with dark lighting and crowded, cramped composition. Instead, you would want to use images with bright lighting and open composition, reflecting the possibilities for improvement.

      You can find beautiful stock images for free on sites like Pexels or Unsplash. Try not to use corporate stock photos, when possible―they’re corny and not likely to really inspire anyone.

      7. Use interesting graphs.

      One of the most effective ways to show a lot of information in few words is to use graphs and charts. What’s more, charts can actually help tell a story. For example, if you want to show a trend over time, a line graph will illustrate and emphasize the rises and falls of your data.  If you’re not sure where to start, try using a graph maker with preset designs.

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        That being said, keep your graphs simple. Keep in mind that your audience won’t have a long time to study and understand your graphs. As a rule of thumb, people should be able to read and understand your graphs in about three seconds.

        8. Make enough slides so you spend only 1-2 minutes on each.

        This is a general rule of thumb to keep the presentation moving along and to keep your audience alert. Switching up the visuals will keep things interesting and help stop your points from blending into one another. If one slide is particularly important you can come back to it after putting a slide or two in between.

        Remember to have fun with your presentation. If you’re bored while you’re giving your presentation, why would the audience find it interesting? Aim to create presentation slides that you would be happy to look at.

        Featured photo credit: TEDBlog via blog.ted.com

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        Sara McGuire

        Content Editor

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        Published on March 20, 2019

        How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

        How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

        Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

        As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

        While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

        What is a Mission Statement?

        Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

        In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

        “Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

        In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

        Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

        While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

        First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

        While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

        While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

        “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

        This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

        What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

        When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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        Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

        When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

        • What we do?
        • How we do it?
        • Whom do we do it for?
        • What value are we bringing?

        Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

        After all, that did check off all the boxes:

        What we do? Provide widgets.

        How we do it? Online.

        Who do we do it for? The consumer.

        What value we bring? The best widgets.

        The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

        Compare that mission statement to this one:

        “We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

        What’s the difference?

        Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

        Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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        You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

        A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

        Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

        1. Keep It Brief

        Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

        You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

        2. Have a Purpose

        A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

        Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

        3. Include a “How”

        Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

        How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

        4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

        This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

        Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

        5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

        It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

        Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

        6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

        Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

        7. Think Long Term

        A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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        8. Get Feedback

        This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

        Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

        9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

        You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

        First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

        And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

        For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

        The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

        It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

        First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

        If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

        Strategic Planning

        A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

        Measuring Performance

        By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

        Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

        Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

        Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

        As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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        Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

        To Hold Management Accountable

        By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

        So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

        If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

        To Serve as an Example

        This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

        After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

        Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

        Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

        Final Thoughts

        Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

        Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

        That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

        By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

        More Resources About Achieving Business Success

        Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
        [2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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