5 Tips That Will Make Your Presentation Stand Out

July 20, 2016

Ever think of a great idea at work, which you believe would change the fortunes of your organization?

Excited, you present the idea to your boss or your team, and it is met with polite apathy? And then a week passes, and the idea appears to have slipped away from everyone’s mind, as if it was never uttered at all?

Many people point the finger at their colleagues when this happens, saying it is their fault for not listening. Truth is, employees sit through hours of meetings each week and they hear a lot. To have your idea resonate, you need to present it in a way that’s memorable.

Some of the world’s greatest presenters – Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, even world leaders – understand this. And therefore, they use techniques when presenting or giving a speech that makes their message stick.

Specifically, in the Lynda.com class she co-created with Tatiana Kolovou entitled Communication Tips, communications guru and Kelley School of Business Senior Lecturer Brenda Bailey-Hughes explained that great presenters often use one of the five following techniques when presenting. Those techniques work wonders, as they make what they say truly memorable and persuasive.

The techniques are:

1. Give concrete examples

If you can give specific, concrete examples in your speech, it makes it so much more effective. A perfect example is the Jobs speech above, which starts with him giving a no-nonsense, fact-based history of the computer industry.

No editorializing needed, just Jobs rattling off the facts and it is incredibly memorable and persuasive.

In her course, Bailey-Hughes mentioned another example in a shareholder report done by Nike. Instead of Nike just writing that they were expanding in China, they wrote:

"We sold our first shoes in China in 1984 when we placed 200 pairs in a 50 square-foot shop called The Friendship Store in Beijing. They sold out in 11 days. Today, the appetite for Nike products continues to grow. The brand is known, and more importantly, understood among many of the 500 million Chinese consumers under 25 years old. That's a billion feet that we're going after just as fast as we can." 

That’s far more memorable.

2. Utilize chiasmus

Chiasmus, defined formally, is when two or more clauses are balanced against each other by the reversal of their structures in order to produce an artistic effect (it’s okay, I didn’t totally understand that either). But, perhaps the most famous example is the one above, where U.S. President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Bailey-Hughes cited a business example from Buffett in her course as well. Buffett once said, "It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”

If you can work chiasmus into your speech, people will certainly remember it.

3. Be alliterative

Alliteration – i.e. using words that all start with the same sound – can be an effective way to have people easily recall what you said, as it sticks with them longer. 

Don’t think this works? Just check out the name of some of the world’s biggest brands: Coca-Cola, Chuck E. Cheese, Krispy Kreme, Gold's Gym, Dunkin' Donuts, etc (here’s a full list).

Why do so many brands have alliterative names? Because it makes them more memorable.

Same goes for you when presenting – sprinkle in some alliteration, and people will be far more likely to remember what you said.

4. Paint a picture in people’s minds with illustrative metaphors

Okay, arguably not the best message here by George Clooney. But still, the metaphor is so illustrative, you can almost feel the weight of that backpack on your shoulders.

It’s a great metaphor that makes the whole speech work.

Bailey-Hughes gave another example in her course about Buffett. When asked what he thought about the financial collapse of 2008, Buffett didn’t just say it was bad for investors. Instead, he said that the shareholders who lost money were like small birds "who strayed into a badminton game, bloodied and confused."

That’s an image that’ll stick with you.

5. Repeat for effect

One of the most famous speeches of the 20th century, Winston Churchill started just about every sentence in his speech above with the words “We shall.” It was intentional – being repetitive, in an eloquent way, can turn a routine presentation into a truly memorable one.

Bailey-Hughes gave another example in her course of Jobs presenting the iPhone in 2007. Rather than saying that the iTunes business was taking off, he instead said Apple was selling “58 songs every second of every hour of every day,” emphasis on every (also a case of using a specific, concrete example).

A word of warning

Bailey-Hughes warned people against using all five of these techniques in a single presentation, saying it’ll come off as overly flowery. Instead, she suggested using one or two during a single presentation.

But, using these techniques strategically can drastically improve your presenting skills. Instead of giving a presentation that most of the people will forget within hours – which happens far more often than not – you’ll start having your ideas truly stick.

*Image by Ben Stanfield, Flickr

Want to learn how to effectively communicate in all aspects of business? Check out the full Lynda.com course, Communication Tips.

Some other Lynda.com classes you might be interested in are: