How to Engage Your Audience with Presentations Layouts

Shubham Kumar Shubham Kumar
Sep 16, 2020 5 min read
How to Engage Your Audience with Presentations Layouts

“Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities” - Jeff Bezos.

The same analogy applies when giving professional presentations.

Imagine presenting a text-heavy 50 slides to a group of uninterested people. Half of them are yawning while the other half is waiting desperately for you to leave.

Heart-breaking, isn’t it?

After burning the midnight oil, your efforts land in a trash can.

While this is not surprising, retaining your audience’s attention is considered a daunting task. According to a study, humans listen at an efficiency rate of 25% or less. We remember only 10% of what we hear after 72-hours. This makes life complicated for people giving business presentations.

If your presentations are text-heavy, lack visual, uninteresting, and non-interactive, your audience will lose their interest sooner or later.

That’s why you need presentation layouts to engage your audience.

From getting new business to engaging your audience, a professional layout answers all your presentation misery.

How to Engage Your Audience with Presentations Layouts

With attention span reduced to eight seconds from 12 seconds in 2000, engaging your audience is an uphill battle. Using presentation templates and layouts, you can create stellar slides to keep the audience interested.

Follow the rule of three

What does 9-1-1, ‘start-middle-end of storytelling, and presentations have in common?

Presenting ideas and stories in threes creates the most memorable experience, and it’s a concept widely used since the time of Aristotle. People remember only three things from your presentation. Why do you want to throw 25 or 30 odd things at them? The longer your key points'  list, the more complex and confusing it is for your listeners.  

Even Steve Jobs used the rule of three in his presentation to describe iPad2. He described iPad2 using three adjectives’ thinner, lighter, and faster’. These three words successfully conveyed the meaning.

When it comes to presentation, divide it into three sections. Use a three-part presentation layout to organize and deliver content.

Tip: Use the list of three to sell your ideas to investors and engage your audience. In the figure below, notice how a presentation slide sends across a message without making the slide text-heavy.

Follow the 10-20-30 rule

If you don’t want to fall in the bucket of presenting terrible pitches, follow the 10-20-30 rule while creating a presentation. When Guy Kawasaki first coined the term, little did he know that it would be impactful after so many years? According to the rule, a presentation should:

  • Have only ten slides
  • Take 20 minutes to present
  • Use thirty points for the font

Does this sound overwhelming? When you present using this rule, you understand the genius behind the system.

Why only ten slides?

According to Kawasaki, listeners cannot understand and retain more than ten concepts at a time. The ten pointers you select depend on your pitch, but ideally, it should identify a problem, give a solution, and describe ways of achieving it.

What’s about the 20 minutes marathon?

Studies have found that adults pay attention for 15-20 minutes at a time during a lecture. Secondly, during a 50-minute lecture, most adults cannot retain or recollect information shared with them recently. As a result, Kawasaki concluded that the ideal length of presentation should be 20 minutes or lesser.

What’s special about the 30 point font?

As a listener, how often do you pay attention to slides using 11 or 12 point text?

Such slides are often overlooked due to their small font size. It also fails to stir visual stimuli. So, it makes sense to use a 30 point font. Apart from visually attracting your audience, it lets you find the most salient features for your presentation.

Tip: Never torture your audience with persuasive presentations; instead, given them something they’ll enjoy reading and listening to. The 10/20/30 rule could become a bible for presentations.

Use images with faces

We, humans, are trained to be amazingly good at seeing faces. According to a study, a human face instills trust, and customers like brands using faces in their brand visuals. But, why does your audience resonate with images having faces?

This is why a presentation layout with faces will get your desired attention.

Tip: Faces help frame the text, especially if the face is looking in the right direction. Our eyes tend to drift in the direction of where the human figure is looking.

For example, use the picture below and enter your text on the right side. The human face drifts attention to where the eyes and finger are pointing. Any text or message you enter in that area is likely to garner attention.

Use a lot of white space.

“The music is not in the notes, but the silence between them” – Claude Debussy.
This line rings true even for presentations. Like music, a presentation requires a lot of empty (white) space to absorb any content. One of the most significant mistakes while delivering presentations is cramming your slides with too much text.

This is why top brands use an image with a single line of text in their ad campaigns. If you’re looking to master your next presentation, include a lot of white spaces because:

  • It makes a slide easier to read
  • It helps draw the attention of your audience
  • Funnels critical messages to your target audience
  • Helps prioritize information

For example, to showcase their finest product range, Tinker uses an image purposely covering an entire page and uses many white spaces with a little text. Due to the white spaces, the message stands out. You can replicate the same web design and layout concept in your presentation.

A cluttered presentation is similar to a cluttered desk. You can never locate what you want on time. Therefore, it’s imperative to use white spaces in your presentation to simplify the design and send across a message to your audience.

Tip: White space is the de-facto design standard in presentation, and by overlooking it, you’re missing a plethora of opportunities.

Conclusion

From TEDx talks to Steve Jobs, you cannot ignore the power of presentation. It’s one of the leading ways to connect with your audience, change the perception and sell products.

A winning presentation is neither difficult nor expensive. It’s just clear, concise, and delivers your message.

So, next time if anyone asks you to create a presentation, pop your soda can, uncork, and tell them you’re ready with a presentation. A presentation layout is an effective and inexpensive method of creating stellar presentations.

To engage your audience, create functional yet attractive slides, minimize content usage, pick pictures with many whitespaces, use human faces, and ensure there’s always a contrast between the text and background. A yellow color text doesn’t look appealing on a white background. But, a brown color indeed does.  

Furthermore, when laying out presentation elements, focus on the rule of third and 10-20-30 rule.

Congratulations! You’re ready to create a top-of-the-class presentation!

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