The 3 Magic Ingredients of Great Presentations

by Phil Waknell

Is there a perfect recipe for a successful presentation? No. Partly it depends on the audience and the context: a boardroom presentation shouldn’t look like a TED talk, even if the subject is the same. And different presentations at the same event – a conference, a demo day, an Executive Committee meeting – should also look different from each other, because otherwise none of them will stand out.

So if there is no magic formula, are there at least some key ingredients we should always include?

Over the last ten years, I’ve given thousands of speakers countless pieces of advice on how to make their presentations resonate with their audiences. Finally, out of all these great tips and ideas, I’ve boiled it down to three magic ingredients. If you include these in your presentation, you’ll be well on the road to success.

These were the subject of my recent TEDx talk at TEDxSaclay. Perhaps you’d like to discover them live by watching this short video – or if not, scroll down to see a summary.

So let’s recap these three magic ingredients:

  1. The Audience – it’s their presentation, not yours, so personalize your presentation to suit your audience, their needs and their expectations, as well as their context. Bring them into the presentation and make it special for them, and they will listen attentively.
  2. The Speaker – even if it’s their presentation, it’s important for you to put something personal into it. If someone else could have delivered the exact same talk with the exact same words, then there’s nothing of you in there, and that matters because when you share, we care. So make it clear why you care, and tell them stories and examples from your experience to illustrate your key messages.
  3. Transformation – too many presentations aim only to inform their audience, and that fails because people forget most of what they hear very quickly. Presentations are best for transforming audiences: changing something in what they believe, feel and do. Always build your presentation around your transformational objectives.

In the second part of this TEDx talk, I showed the Ideas on Stage Audience Transformation Roadmap™, our simple but extremely powerful tool for setting these transformational objectives and brainstorming what to say, show and do to achieve them. This has been used thousands of times already in all kinds of situations, and not only for great presentations: also for event planning, proposal writing, preparing job interviews or even writing tough emails or press releases.

The Audience Transformation Roadmap works in any situation where you need to change what people believe, feel and/or do. Even better, we’ve shared it as part of our commitment to improving communication, using a Creative Commons license so you can use it without charge (as long as you don’t try to sell it as your own - simple conditions available here).

If you’d like to learn more about using the Audience Transformation Roadmap, or the three magic ingredients, or anything else about presentations; or if you’d like help to facilitate a brainstorming session; or if you’d like to invite me to speak to your teams about better business communication (in English or French), simply contact us using the form below.

And if you liked this talk, please share it with your colleagues. They’ll thank you - and so will their audiences!