7 elements of a persuasive, memorable presentation

Open with one big idea, use visual aids to crystallize crucial information, and close with a strong call to action.

No matter how many times you’ve done it, presenting in front of peers, clients, colleagues or strangers is a nerve-wracking challenge.

It’s difficult—but not impossible—to convey information in a succinct, engaging and persuasive manner. Here are seven proven tips that will help you get great audience response:

1. Make the first 30 seconds count.

Inexperienced presenters often waste their crucial opening moments with boring introductions and agendas. Seasoned presenters deliver the big idea up front.

Try to state one big “headline” message within the first 30 seconds of your presentation. Share a big idea for listeners to absorb and internalize.

Write this idea in one memorable and specific sentence. Turn that big idea or takeaway into the hook of your presentation.

Use an opening story, surprising fact, joke or personal anecdote to pique your listeners’ interest and lead into your big idea. Whichever opening tactic you try, just grab your audience’s attention immediately.

2. Compare and contrast your solution with the status quo.

By presenting the drawbacks of the status quo before suggesting your solution, you’ll help your audience understand the scope of the problem you’re confronting.

Comparing and contrasting two ideas will help you make a much more persuasive case. When you do so, be sure to directly address your audience’s experiences and pain points.

The more visual you can be, the better. See examples from Uber and Apple below.


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persuasive presentation

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3. Use visual aids to summarize and clarify your big ideas.

If you force your audience to read too much text (or listen to too many words), you’ll probably lose them. Visuals are great for explaining complex concepts in simple terms, so use striking imagery to communicate your big ideas.

Also, summarize your background research or data points with digestible charts and tables. Charts can make claims more persuasive and make information more memorable.

4. Get your audience involved to build trust and rapport.

No one likes to be talked at.

Most listeners will be more engaged and receptive to your ideas if they’re engaged in a dialogue instead of passively absorbing what you’re saying. Even if you’re speaking in front of a large crowd, a great presentation should feel like a conversation. There should be give-and-take. Simply asking a question and getting your audience to respond can instantly raise the energy level in a room.

5. Use a clean, consistent design and layout.

A lousy slide deck design and layout can ruin even the most scintillating presentation.

Make sure your slides are clean, concise and consistent and that they abide by these guidelines:

  • Use consistent layouts with plenty of white space.
  • Use a simple color scheme with one highlight color.
  • Have clear distinctions between headers and body text, with minimal font styles.

A polished presentation will go a long way toward reinforcing your credibility.

6. Eliminate extraneous details.

Think about the last presentation you sat through that didn’t hit the mark.

What made you lose interest? Was there too much text on the slides? Was it bland or boring? Was it disorganized, with no clear takeaways?

The downfall of most presenters is trying to convey too much—or simply talking for too long. Like the example below, a well-designed presentation should have no more than one takeaway per slide (with a healthy balance of text and visuals).

persuasive presentation

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No one will ever complain that your presentation is too short. Cut the fluff, and eliminate extraneous information.

7. Sign off with a persuasive call to action.

It’s tempting to conclude a presentation with a summary slide that rehashes all your main points. Aside from being redundant and boring, these recaps don’t tell the audience anything new.

Instead, give your audience something to do with the information they’ve just received. Issue a clear, compelling call to action.

persuasive presentation

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Remember, the point is to persuade—so maximize your closing with a specific, clear prompt.

A version of this post first appeared on the Venngage blog.

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