The main steps for creating a slide deck are:
Imagine standing in front of an audience, only to watch their attention fade as you click through slide after slide. It's a disheartening experience, and it's more common than you might think.
The truth is, a slide deck without a clear narrative will bore your audience and leave your message unheard.
Worse than that, a storyless slide deck may leave people disappointed and feeling like they wasted their time. And you probably wouldn’t want such feelings to reflect on you.
But a good story makes your slide deck memorable, enjoyable, and perceived as more valuable by your audience. This is the power of a good story, and this is what this post will teach you to harness.
Let me show you the techniques to turn your presentations into compelling narratives. Learn the process, get insights, and tips, and grab a slide deck template to get you started.
Let's dive in!
Here's a rundown of common mistakes to avoid when creating a slide deck as shared by Dan Zedek, a professor of journalism and media innovation at Northwestern University:
Overloading with visuals: Feeling insecure about visual talent often leads to overloading slides with too many photos, irrelevant images, colors, or typefaces. Simplicity adds clarity.
Long slide duration: A slide that stays up for 5 or 6 minutes can cause the audience's mind to wander. Aim for 30 seconds to a minute per slide to keep engagement high.
Irrelevant animations and colors: Using animations and colors that don't serve the content can be distracting. Use them sparingly and consistently to highlight important concepts.
Ignoring the audience: Understanding who's in the audience and what they expect from your presentation is key. Tailor the contents of your presentation to resonate with them.
Reading from the slide: This is considered one of the worst sins in slide presentations. Your slides should complement your speech, not repeat it.
Lack of pacing: Research shows that people's patience lasts about 6 or 7 minutes. Pacing your presentation and breaking down big ideas into smaller pieces can keep the audience engaged throughout.
Failure to inject personality: You're not just presenting facts; you're telling a story. Let your personality shine through, whether it's your authority, humor, or passion for the subject.
The difference between a forgettable slide deck and a memorable one lies in the groundwork you do before you sit down to build the slide deck.
In the words of Nancy Duarte, the author of the book “slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations”:
“Audience interest is directly proportionate to the presenter's preparation. You better spend time and energy on any presentations where the stakes are high.
An audience can tell how much energy you spent on your presentation, which is a reflection of how much you valued their time.
If they gave you an hour of their time, you need to make it worth it to them by treating their time as a valuable asset by making the content valuable to them.”
Here's a guide to laying that foundation for a slide deck that not only informs but engages:
What's the aim of your presentation? Are you looking to educate, convince, engage, or motivate? Pinpointing your goal is like setting your GPS; it guides everything that follows.
Understanding your audience's needs, expectations, and pain points allows you to tailor your message. Speak their language, address their concerns, and you'll capture their attention from the first slide.
Dive into your subject with the curiosity of a child and the diligence of a detective. This depth of understanding will shine through in your presentation, building credibility and allowing you to address questions and objections with confidence.
Most slide decks are delivered using the PowerPoint slide format, a common 9:16 ratio that we all know. This includes presentations made with tools like Google Slides and Canva. You may even think this is the ONLY way.
But the ppt slide format is a bad format for engagement. It’s static, limited in space, and prone to all the common slide deck mistakes.
On the one hand, a static slide deck is the most common and recognized format, which makes it “safe”. But the fact it’s recognizable also makes it indistinguishable and boring.
On the other hand, an interactive slide deck invites your audience to explore with you, turning the presentation into a conversation.
Which deck would be more likely to get your attention, the static or the interactive one?
A slide deck's effectiveness isn't just about the content; it's about how that content is organized.
The way you structure your slide deck can mean the difference between your audience walking away with valuable insights or leaving halfway into your presentation.
Here’s how to organize the contents of your deck for maximum impact:
The reality is that people forget 90% of what you present after 48 hours, and the 10% they do remember is often random.
So, how can you control that crucial 10%? By prioritizing your content, focusing on the key messages that align with your goals, and crafting your content to ensure that the right bits of information become part of that vital 10% that sticks.
Engage your audience's natural curiosity by leveraging information gap theory. Create intentional gaps in your narrative, pose questions, and hint at answers to come.
It's like leaving breadcrumbs along the path, guiding your audience through your narrative and keeping them hungry for more.
Humans think in stories; we relate to them, and we remember them. The secret to an engaging slide deck is using a storytelling structure.
If it's a business presentation, follow with an execution plan, and close with clear next steps. The storytelling framework helps your audience flow through your slide deck like a good book.
Here’s our recommended storyline structure:
If you want to design your slide deck for engagement, think beyond text.
Create original visuals that breathe life into data. Complement your words with multimedia elements like images and videos. Incorporate interactivity and narrated design to transform a monologue into a conversation.
Creating a slide deck that stands out might seem like a complex task, but with AI as your creative companion and a clear roadmap to follow, it turns into a seamless and magical experience.
Here's how you can breathe life into your ideas and make a captivating slide deck with a few easy steps:
Begin by telling our AI assistant about the slide deck you wish to create. This first step sets the tone, allowing the AI to align with your goals and craft the perfect content structure.
Briefly share details about yourself, your company, and the topic of your presentation. This personal touch helps the AI fine-tune the content, making your slide deck resonate with your audience.
Choose a design that reflects your brand. Our AI assistant will take it from there, crafting a deck that's visually cohesive and appealing.
Add your text and design touches, and let the AI adapt the design to your content. You can also use it to enhance your copy, brainstorm ideas, or even generate original visuals.
Take a final look and make any last-minute changes. If any tweaks are needed after sending, no worries—you can still make them. Your deck lives online, so you're in control of the version your audience sees, always.
In the world of presentations, personalization is the magic ingredient that turns a standard slide deck into an engaging dialogue.
It's the subtle art of making each viewer feel like you're speaking directly to them, understanding their unique needs and interests.
But how can you achieve this level of personal connection? Here’s how you can do it with Storydoc -
3 steps for easy slide deck personalization:
Add information about your prospect: Add names and company details with a simple click. Your audience will receive a deck that feels crafted just for them, enhancing engagement.
Add dynamic variables: Using dynamic variables, you can address your reader by name throughout the presentation, turning it into a personalized conversation.
Advanced: Integrate Storydoc with your CRM: Storydoc seamlessly integrates with your CRM, allowing you to pull information directly into your decks. It's personalization at scale.
Measuring the success of a slide deck goes beyond numbers; it's also about understanding the connection you've made with your audience. It's about knowing what resonates, what inspires, and what lingers in the minds of those you've reached.
Every slide deck created with Storydoc comes with an analytics panel that provides real-time insights -
Are viewers spending time on the slides that contain your key points? Who are they sharing your presentation with? Are they taking the next step, like visiting your website to learn more or looking through your portfolio?
By understanding how your audience interacts with your content, you can turn a standard presentation into a powerful tool for connection and influence.
Here’s a quick video showing how it works:
While following best practices is essential, standing out requires something more. It requires going from static to interactive, and from fact-led to story-led slide decks.
But interactive storytelling slide deck templates are hard to come by. Or at least they used to be.
Below you have designed templates that will make your next presentation something to remember.
Try Storydoc interactive slide deck maker for 14 days free (keep any slide deck you make forever!)