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Blog — Renovate Communication Design, LLC

9 Steps to Better Presentations: Part 2 – Your Presentation is About One Thing

9_-_A_Simple_Guide_to_Better_Presentations.008NOTE: This is the second in a series of posts taken from our guide 9: A Simple Guide to Better Presentations. Can’t wait and want to get it all now? Download the eBook for FREE here.

A lot of presentations try to cover too much ground. You may think you need to tell your prospect (or team or students) everything. You don’t.

Some presentations, on the other hand, are about nothing. They don’t have a point.

Your presentation should be about one thing. People have a hard time remembering so make your presentation about one big idea.

Just give them one thing and leave them wanting more.

9 Steps to Better Presentations: Part 1 – Don’t Default to PowerPoint

9_-_A_Simple_Guide_to_Better_Presentations.005NOTE: This is the first in a series of posts taken from our guide 9: A Simple Guide to Better Presentations. Can’t wait and want to get it all now? Download the eBook for FREE here.

Who ever said every talk, meeting, or presentation needs PowerPoint?


Here’s a handy rule of thumb: if it (and “it” means anything in your presentation) helps you make your point, fine. If it doesn’t, consider dropping it.In fact, your presentation may be stronger without slides. (Abraham Lincoln never used PowerPoint.)

Do slides help you make your point? No?

Then do you really need them?

Steal Apple’s Design Philosophy To Improve Your Presentations

At the World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) this week, Apple unveiled some pretty cool things: upcoming versions of its operating systems for mobile devices (iOS 7) and desktop computers (MacOS X “Mavericks”) as well as the next generation of its professional desktop computer, the Mac Pro.

Preceding all the news and announcements, though, was a nifty little video that explained Apple’s design philosophy:

If you design and deliver presentations regularly, the tie-ins should be obvious:

  • People remember what they feel
  • Doing something great means saying “no” to a lot of “good” things
  • Focus your presentation on one key idea

Want some specific suggestions for using these ideas in your presentations?

Get the FREE 9 guide or the Presentation Renovation eBook. You’ll learn how to take an ordinary presentation and make it extraordinary, applying the same principles that Apple uses to make remarkable stuff. The stuff that makes people camp outside Apple stores days before it’s released.

The Future of Renovate (and What It Means to You)

Folks–yesterday we sent the message below to friends on our email list. We wanted you to know, too.


It’s been two years since we began renovating how you look at presentations, and we’ve enjoyed every step along the way.

When you prepare to celebrate an anniversary, you spend some time in reflection. But it’s also important to do some vision casting. Where do you want to be by the next anniversary?

As we approach our second anniversary at Renovate, we knew that some changes needed to take place, and we wanted you to be the first to know about them.

Over the past few years we’ve worked with multiple businesses, organizations, and individuals through communication design, training, and coaching. Renovate will still do that.

The truth is, from your end you may not notice a big difference in what Renovate does. The difference comes in the day-to-day for Michael and Deanne.

Deanne is preparing to welcome another child into her family’s home by the end of the year—a sixteen year-old boy who will know minimal English. To better prepare for this time, she has decided to take a backseat in the operations of Renovate. Deanne is also pursuing the opportunity to do more speaking about adoption and orphan care at conferences and retreats. She loves presenting as much as she loves teaching others how to present.

Many of you are familiar with Michael’s photography business. He’s decided that the timing is right to grow that and will be opening a studio in downtown Lincoln, Illinois. That said, Michael will continue to “hold down the fort” for Renovate, serving as the primary contact for clients and prospects. He’ll also be responsible for setting the vision and direction for the company. Since photography and presenting are ultimately about communicating, Michael is looking for opportunities to help commercial clients do both of those better.

We’re still very interested in helping you renovate and improve your presentations. To better understand how we can do that, we’ll be sending you a brief survey soon. Would you please take a few minutes to complete that when you receive it?

We are glad that you are on this journey with us and we’re excited to see what the future holds, both for you and Renovate. Thanks for coming along.

Best regards—

Michael & Deanne

Learning from Superheroes: Why Every Presentation Needs Conflict

Imagine Superman without Lex Luthor, Spiderman without the Green Goblin, Batman without The Joker, or Thor without Loki.

Boring, right?


Every superhero needs a villain.

What good is a crimefighter if there’s no crime to fight? The badness of the bad guys validates the goodness of the good guys.

Without the Matrix, Neo is just another office drone who hacks in his off-hours.

Without Darth Vader, the Empire, and the Dark Side, Luke Skywalker is just another brooding farm kid on an outpost planet.

Every hero’s story needs conflict to make it interesting.

To make things even more interesting, however, the hero’s conflict is often internal as well as external.

Should Neo swallow the red pill or the blue pill–join the struggle against the Matrix or remain in his relatively safe but artificial world?

Should Han Solo enlist with the Rebel Alliance to fight the Empire or continue smuggling for his own selfish gain?

Should Peter Parker continue to fight crime as Spiderman or give it up for a simple, happy life with Mary Jane?

Conflict creates a natural curiosity in an audience since we want to know how or if the tension will be resolved. Conflict, then, is an important tool for keeping attention.

So whether you call it conflict, tension, or contrast, your presentation also needs it to make it interesting and memorable.

Here are two ways you can build external and internal tension into your presentation.

External conflict: introduce a tension but don’t resolve it until later

In this case, the conflict is yours, not your audience’s. Maybe it’s a story from your own experience or a problem from someone else. Your audience feels the tension and wants to see it resolved, but the problem is not their own.

One client we recently coached told her audience about taking 15 family members–spanning 4 generations and 90 years in age–on a vacation. Where would they go? How would they get there? What special concerns (diet needs, limited mobility, relationship dynamics) would prevail?  By setting the stage with these questions, she created a sense of tension in her listeners–they want to know what’s going to happen! By waiting until the end of her presentation, though, to reveal what happened, she kept their attention through the talk.

Internal conflict: create a desire for change

What do I want my audience to do? This is one of the first questions that should guide your planning. Once you’ve answered that, you can build your message around taking your audience from where they’re at now to the place you want them to go. This differencebetween where they are now and where you want them to go–this contrast–creates tension.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, for example, he described the current world of smart phones: not very smart and not very easy to use. He then offered Apple’s solution: very smart and very easy to use. That contrast creates a conflict in the audience. “I don’t want to keep using my dumb, difficult phone,” we say to ourselves. “I want the new, smart, easy-to-use phone.”

What change do you want your audience to make? Create tension and highlight it. In fact, Nancy Duarte has a great TED talk describing how to use this type of contrast to structure an entire presentation. Check it out.

In your next presentation, find a way to include conflict to keep your audience interested and you’ll find it easier to move them as well.

Image via Wikimedia Commons