How many PowerPoint presentations have you sat through, stifling a yawn here and there and wondered “where is this all going?” Or maybe you recall the time the presenter read out loud slide after slide of 12pt text, and you tried to race them to the end?
How many of them were created by you? Gulp!
It’s no easy feat to create a compelling presentation. However, a different perspective on how to approach it may prevent the yawns or at least reduce the time the audience spends checking their emails. Here are our tips on how to gift wrap your message with storytelling:
1. Understand the context
Stop! Put down excel and walk away from the pie chart!
Understanding the context is crucial. You may understand your data and know that your results are truly awesome but your audience will be coming in cold and will need to be taken on the journey. So, why not tell them a story.
The first thing you need to do is establish the context. In other words, define the:
Who – who are you creating it for
What – what do you want them to get out of it
Why – why are you telling them
Where – where will you be delivering the message
How – how will you be delivering the message
2. Organise and check your data
Check your data.
Now check it again.
And perhaps, once more, just to be certain.
Spending days, weeks or even months working with the same data can make you blind to inconsistencies. ALWAYS make sure that the data you’re presenting is accurate and consistent.
3. Choose the right visuals
A picture paints a thousand words. Something we all know.
Graphics and charts are essential when it comes to presenting your data and highlighting your message.
However, it’s important to remember a graph is a means to an end, not the end itself. I personally love Sankey charts, but I rarely have the opportunity to use them.
If a graph is appealing but fails to get the message across quickly, ditch it and use a different visual.
Here’s a handy resource for choosing the right chart for the job:
4. Eliminate the clutter
Three seconds is all you have to grab someone’s attention. If the page is full of graphs and text, your audience can’t focus on the key point. Effectively, you’ve lost them.
Hone in on the key message and make sure it stands out loudly on first glance. And please keep text to a minimum, using it only to support the message.
5. Highlight the message
This is the money shot. Despite all the painstaking hours of effort you put into preparing this, no-one wants to know the HOW. They just want to know the end results – so show them!
When assembling your deck, challenge the need for each component? Does it add to, or distract from the message? Does the deck work without it?
Ask yourself, what is the one thing you really want your audience to remember?
Now stand back and see if your message jumps off the page.
No? Then keep polishing.
6. Tell the story
School taught us that every story needs a beginning, a middle and end.
Deliver your message, in the same way, to make sure your audience is clear on the importance of your findings.
Start with the Why and challenge their thinking all the way through to the What.
7. The ‘Nana’ test
Once you are happy that your story is compelling and the message is clear, you are ready for the final, most challenging test. Nana.
If she doesn’t get it, go back to the drawing board and ask yourself why. The message may not mean anything to her, but it should be clear.
8. Sprinkle on some glitter and give it some punch!
Make your presentation explode off the screen. Take inspiration from examples of graphs and visualisations online.
Take a look at the work of experts like:
Nathan Yau – http://flowingdata.com/about-nathan/
Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic – http://www.storytellingwithdata.com/
It’s highly likely someone has presented data similar to yours in the past.