Look back at all of the successful presentations that you have listened to, and try to figure out what they all have in common. They all may have been talking about different topics and coming from different fields, but all great presentations excel in three things, which are called the pillars of an effective presentation.
If you’re looking for a way to develop your own presentational skills for whatever purpose, improving on these three encompassing pillars are a great starting point. In this article, we’ll elaborate more on the three pillars of an effective presentation, and share some actionable tips that you can quickly adopt to improve on these three pillars.
What are the 3 pillars of an effective presentation?
Every presentation is judged upon the three same pillars, and mastering these pillars is key to delivering an effective presentation. These pillars are:
- Content – The “what” of your presentation, the message, and the flow of your arguments.
- Design – The visuals of your presentation, how your content is visually received by the audience.
- Delivery – The “how” of your presentation, how you voice your message, how you express and communicate your content.
Let’s look at a presentation like it was a dish at a restaurant. The content would be the ingredients that make up the dish, and how they were cooked to create a unified flavor. The design would be the plating of the dish, how the different ingredients are tastefully arranged on the plate. And the delivery would be the waiting service, how the dish has been delivered from the kitchen to the table.
All three pillars are equally crucial for your presentation and must be given equal attention to succeed. You cannot have an effective presentation if you have good content and design but poor delivery. The same goes for bad content or bad design. A truly successful presentation is one that checks the boxes for all three pillars.
First Pillar: Content
The content is the actual meat of your presentation. This is the message and the key points that you want to share with your audience, and it is the very reason why you want to present in the first place.
Know your “why”
With the “what” of the presentation, you must have a clear “why” – the purpose and goal of your presentation. Is it to inform your audience, inspire them, or persuade them to take action? Get an idea of what you want to achieve with your presentation, both for you and your audience.
This primary goal will be your guiding stone of how you structure the content of your presentation.
Have a natural flow
The number one thing you have to consider with your content? It’s cohesiveness. There must be this flow to it that’s easy to follow and understand, much like creating a story. Humans are wired to learn best when new knowledge is presented as a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Use this structure to draft a presentation that takes your audience on a ride.
Second Pillar: Design
Once you have your content prepared, the next thing to consider is the second pillar, which is design. Design is the architecture of your visual accompaniments that enhance how you present your ideas and how your audience receives these ideas. Often not given as much attention, design is just as important as the other two pillars to create an effective presentation.
Keep it simple, and purposeful
The common pitfall when it comes to your presentation’s design is thinking of it as an accessory rather than a necessity. Instead of the flashy and unnecessary effects and decorations, effective design often translates into simple design. Every component must serve a purpose and enhance the quality of your message and delivery. The KISS principle works, keep it small and simple.
If you need presentation graphics, there are free resources available from where you can download thousands of free templates for PowerPoint and backgrounds for your presentations. The variety of designs available can help to achieve a simple yet winning presentation.
Third Pillar: Delivery
The third and last pillar is delivery, or how you communicate your message to your listeners. If content is what you want to say, then delivery is how you say it. No matter how interesting your content is and how outstanding your visuals are, they will remain as untapped material if they are not properly delivered to your audience.
Tell a story
One of the key strategies to deliver an effective presentation is to tell a story. Use the story that you have created with your content, and make it come alive through compelling storytelling.
If your goal is to present the new product from your company, don’t just start spouting its benefits off the bat. Instead, lead them in with an everyday problem they may have encountered, and tell them what you have created to solve this problem. If you take them on an engaging journey, your audience will be with you from start to finish. There are several articles and guides with practical tips on how to turn your data into an eye opening story. Facts tell, stories sell.
Bring out the energy
Another important component of your delivery is energy. Your audience’s energy level will always be the same as yours, for better or for worse. If your spirit is dismally down while presenting, then you cannot expect your audience to be lively and participative.
Your audience responds to the energy that you put out there, so make sure to be high-energy to engage and fully capture your audience throughout the presentation.
Doesn’t matter if you are a team leader, managing a team, and educator or business consultant. When preparing for your next presentation, consider taking heed of these three pillars, and make sure to allot equal attention and effort in polishing your content, designing your visuals, and practicing your delivery. Once you have all three of these pillars mastered under your belt, your presentation is guaranteed to wow and resonate with your audience.