Presentation; Unleash your Inner Rockstar!

Presentation; Unleash your Inner Rockstar!

Most of us love a good ted talk! We sit in awe not just at the idea, but how the idea is packaged and presented.

Not every presentation has to echo Steve Jobs unveiling the iPhone, or Bill Gates showing the path to a better world through health initiatives. Sometimes people just want the facts and to move on.

I see this as the difference between information and inspiration, the former is about being succinct and accurate. The latter is where we get ready to rock and roll.

  • Information: Corporate slide deck with bullet points, facts and figures (the quick update to someone about last months figures).
  • Inspiration: Step back and change it up, take some time.

Building The Presentation

But, how do we present like that, when we are talking about a development practise, or a new project on something as dry as customer metadata.


The first thing to invest in is time, when pitching to new clients businesses can spend days on a 30 – 60 minute presentation. If you aim to make a lot of change and win over stakeholders, consider spending a day per hour of presentation. This includes time to plan, prepare, compose any supporting materials (such as slides) and practise the presentation. Allow extra time for research required.


It’s important to remember that stories are something we all engage in. If you want to get buy in from users and stakeholders remember that the audience has to be the hero of the story you are going to tell (or that they will become the hero if they follow the advice).

Consider what will make each person a hero, what do they want to get out of this idea, and how will it make them/their working day better.

Rule of 3s

If you look at this as being like recursion, or like inception. The famous rule of 3s repeats itself. Both in the layout of the whole presentation, but also on a slide by slide basis.

The first iteration of this is in the presentation layout, grouping the things you want to communicate into three buckets allows you to easily spread them out over your presentation.

As you go down deeper, consider that each section can have one or three stories within it. For the main content, aim to have a maximum of three stories, more than this and people will forget them and lose the flow. Each story should have three aspects.

  • Reason to listen (open ended question, call for engagement)
    • 1 section/storie, 3 aspects
  • Content
    • (3 sections/stories, with 3 aspects).
  • Conclude: (either a “Call to action” or a “Reaction”)
    • 1 section/storie, 3 aspects

Having a Q&A section breaks the rule of 3s. But is often inevitable. When doing a small presentation people get round this by saying “ask questions at any time”. When doing a presentation to a very large audience, it can be tacked on to the end.

Slides & Supports

Slides are common, but not required for a presentation. Try doing your presentation without slides as a test run. You might realise how unimportant they are for some presentations.

It’s true, a picture speaks a thousand words. Often a flipchart or whiteboard is just as good for illustrating your words.


This classic performance from Don McMillan covers all the things we know we shouldn’t do with powerpoint. I won’t go into depth here as I feel it’s already done to death. Just enjoy the video for a break and a smile.


Keep things “on brand”, this is important to make your presentation look professional within an organisation.

Communicate one idea, or one aspect of an idea per slide.

Inspirational Formats

While it isn’t appropriate for many workplace presentations, have a play with PechaKucha (a Japanese presentation format) 20 images, 20 seconds each, set to auto advance. This keeps you on your toes, and will get you in the mindset to communicate each idea quickly and move on.

I can’t remember who (google is awash with to many 10 tips to improve your presentation articles), but I read about one presenter who only used images (no text) on his slides. Sufficient to prompt him on what he was going to say. I’ve tried variations on this with good results, this can be extended to animations/videos to demonstrate complex ideas.

I once used only memes and random images (each relevant to the topic) to cover some ideas quickly at the top level in a lighthearted way.


It feels odd, but practise your presentation. Either to a willing colleague, friend or family member. It’s worth recording yourself (any webcam or mobile phone camera will do). Nobody likes how they look/sound recorded, but it’s a good way to get a feel for how you look when presenting.


Avoid (practise is key here) the horrible word fumbles of:

  • Um
  • So…
  • Again…
  • What I’m saying is…

Think about how you stand, consider a “triangle” stance. Your head being the top, and your elbows/hands being the bottom two points. This is where peoples attention will be focused on you when presenting. Keep your gestures in this space.

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