Presentation Skills: How to Add Impact to Your Slides

Businesswoman boxing gloves

Have you ever delivered a good news presentation and found your audience was underwhelmed?

You expected an elated reaction from them and got nothing.

Have you ever delivered a presentation with bad news and found the audience wouldn’t let you finish?

It’s probably your slides.

Let’s take a look at an example of good news.

For this example let’s imagine you are the head of marketing in a large organization.

Sales have been bad for the last year or so. To counter the drop in sales you implemented a new marketing campaign a couple of months ago.

The results have been impressive with conversions from lead to the sale going through the roof!

Today, you are presenting these results to the executive management team.

Below is the slide you are using to explain the bad performance and the increase you experienced after introducing the new marketing campaign.

Unfortunately, even though the management team is happy, they seem underwhelmed with the results.

Here is the slide you used for the above explanation:


Can you see what’s wrong?

There are a few issues, the top ones being:

The slide tells the whole story

There are no impact elements.

The audience knows what you are going to say before you say it.

First, you talk about the bad year or results and then you talk about the fantastic result over the last couple of months.

Trouble is the audience knew what you were going to say because it’s on your slide! By the time you get to the good results the audience is thinking, “I know. I read it already.”

The impact is lost

There is too much information on your slide

The audience isn’t listening.

While you are talking, giving the background, and sharing the good results, the audience is distracted.

They are honestly trying to listen to you. However, you have a lot of information on your slide so it must be important, right? The audience thinks it’s important so they are trying to read it, while also trying to listen to you.

The brain cannot multi-task.

As much as we think we can, we can’t multi-task effectively. The conscious brain in a single-focus operating system.

When the audience tries to listen to you and read at the same time their attention is divided and neither task gets done effectively.

How to add impact to your slides

There are some really simple rules to follow to add impact to your slides:

1. Simplify what you show

The audience should be focused on you and what you are saying so the slides should be simple so as not to distract them.

The slides only need to remind the audience what you are talking about at any given moment.

If you are describing a 30% sales increase, then it would be acceptable just to show the number 30 in the middle of the screen.

If you have prepared and practiced what you are going to say before you start creating your slides this step is simple.

2. Don’t show everything at once

If you are describing a fantastic sales increase in recent months and you want to emphasize this point (and perhaps get a reaction) only show the bad results first.

Show the bad results first.

When you are about to mention the fantastic results then show that on your slide using animation or a whole new slide.

The impact difference is amazing:


You don’t need to be a designer to create effective slides. You just need to remember a simple rule:

You are the presenter, not the slides. The slides are there to support you, not the other way around.

What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments section below…

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