Strategic Human Capital Insights

Does Your Presentation Pass the Test? How to Make it More Focused & Impactful

3/17/15 9:30 AM

PresentationSkillsWhere have all the powerful presentations gone?  

I have just spent two months watching presentations that are sorely lacking impact.  As an audience observer of the presentation process, I decided to dissect the presentations from a professional presentation discipline – a professional skill set that I have taught and coached for many years. Here are two key observations.

1. The Power of PowerPoint

It appears that we have equated presentations with a PowerPoint deck. 

  1. The PowerPoint presentation is NOT the presentation – it is merely a visual tool used as part of the presentation. 

  2. The PowerPoint presentation MUST follow presentation standards. As an audience member – that’s not negotiable.

    • One PowerPoint deck is NOT fit for all purposes.  A PowerPoint deck, so often used for company distribution or in an internal meeting, is likely not in a presentation format that creates the high impact required when used as a presentation tool.

    • There ARE best practices associated with great PowerPoint presentations.  They are focused on how and why the audience perceives and retains information.  (The most egregious mistake is the poor bullet that has now become a multi-line sentence – or worse, a blob-like paragraph, which is impossible to read and highly improbable that it will create the intended impact.)

    • Where did the format and presentation roadmap go?  The format and roadmap allows the audience to proactively accompany the presenter on the presentation journey?  For the audience’s sake, let’s give them a reason and a rationale to listen.  A member of your audience should never be thinking, “Where is this going, or why am I here listening to this?”

Read Presentation Skills Series >>

Over the years, the mechanical tools for presentations have definitely changed for the better.  We have thankfully evolved from the overhead projector and transparencies of yester year.  Now, we can create spectacular PowerPoint presentations, or a variety of other tools like Prezi, videos using Animoto or even iMovie, etc. Today, however, in corporate, we commit everything to the “DECK”.  Because the deck is ubiquitous, and used for everything, we have forgotten, or perhaps never learned how to modify decks for the high-impact presentation format. There is a difference!

2. Yes, presenter, there really are multi-layered skills required to make a great presentation.

Just because you are a presenter, doesn’t mean you know how to present. There are many skills involved in the process.   If you are not actively thinking about each of these skills, you are very likely, not doing them.  These skills range from:

  • Presentation prep
  • Creating great presentation visuals
  • Using your physicals skills
  • Integrating your physical, verbal and graphics to reinforce one message
  • Delivering to your audience
  • Managing your space and logistics
  • Handling Q & A
  • Practice, practice and practice some more! 

Your ability to deliver the high-impact message is considered a key professional skill that will either accelerate your professional growth or cause your career to plateau.


In our blog series on presentation skills, we focus on the elements of great presentations and provide a framework to follow that allows you to control your message so it creates the intended impact at the highest possible level.  Just click here to read all of our presentation skills blogs.

Read Presentation Skills Series >>

Topics: Presentation Skils

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

Subscribe to Updates

Recent Posts


Download the Human Asset Management Strategy eBook



Download Your Digital Copy