Speaking in public is one of the best and quickest ways to raise your visibility.

When you are standing in a room sharing your knowledge – whether that’s in front of your team at work, at a business networking meeting or on stage at a conference – you have the chance to shine and be seen as an authority on your subject.

However, very few people present well without having had some type of presentation skills training along the way. And as much as a presentation can enhance your reputation, build brand awareness and bolster your profile – it can also have a negative impact if you’re not properly prepared.

A lot of people who present are unaware that they are making mistakes that would actually be very simple to rectify.

In this post we are going to look at what I think are 5 key focus points for creating winning presentations.

1. Start with Pain Island

To capture your audiences’ attention from the ‘get go’ you need to understand what they are struggling with or what they are trying to achieve.

A lot of people will be facing a challenge in their business or life which they want to overcome. Your job when presenting is to demonstrate that you understand what these struggles are as quickly as possible because it creates a connection between you and the audience.

To achieve this connection, if you’re using slides in your presentation, then your first slide could be about the challenges your audience is facing rather than about you or your business. I advise my clients to create an ‘If you are here today then you probably want to know how…’ and then give 4-5 bullet points relating to the challenges they are facing.

If you are not using slides then simply asking for a show of hands to those points is also a great way to engage your audience and establish connection.

2.  Take them to Paradise Island

You don’t want to stay in ‘Pain Island’ too long because the point is not to make your audience feel bad or feel disheartened. So, once you’ve focussed on certain key pain points initially, you’ll want to then take them on to Paradise Island as a matter of urgency.

This is where you tell your audience what is possible and emphasise the ease with which their ambitions can be achieved. That’s not to say that you don’t have to put effort in or that success simply materialises overnight but rather that if someone follows your suggested approach then they will achieve their desired outcome.

At this point you are not trying to sell your audience something – that comes at the end. For now you are merely sharing your insights into your expertise and experience and adding great value.

3. Once upon a time…

The key to delivering a great presentation is to make it relatable to your audience and one of the ways you can do this particularly well is to share stories.

Growing up in Jamaica my dad would tell us kids Jamaican ghost stories. As an adult I realise this was mainly to scare us into doing something or behaving in a certain way. But Jamaican folklore is well known for its ghost stories and would give even the greatest sceptic of the supernatural goosebumps if they were listening in on a dark night.

The great value of stories is that our brains process information better when we hear it in the form of a story. It doesn’t matter if you are talking to a CEO of a FTSE 100 or small business owner who is just starting out, stories help people understand why your offer is attractive and that gives you the opportunity to create a more exciting and engaging presentation.

4.  The power of a soundbite

Soundbites are one of the most effective tools you can use to make yourself memorable in a presentation. However, the majority of presenters don’t realise this and don’t use them, and in my opinion they are missing a trick.

A soundbite can take a complex issue and shape it into a memorable image for your audience to consume, while also creating a hook for emotion and comparisons.

A soundbite is a short, catchy snippet of speech which can be delivered within a 5 to 10 second timeframe and they are normally 10 – 15 words in length. The reason they get overlooked so much in the context of presentations is that people often think of them as only being useful in conversations with journalists.

The great thing about soundbites is they are:

  • easy to recall
  • easy to repeat, and
  • easy to transfer your message

The key when presenting is to plan your soundbites. If you are using slides make sure your soundbite is on a single slide where it doesn’t have to compete for airtime with any other wording. Make sure you repeat your soundbite several times throughout your presentation.

5. Choosing the right imagery

We have all heard the saying ‘death by PowerPoint’ and I’m sure you can imagine dozens of slides with a ton of writing on every slide, but no one has ever said ‘death by imagery’.

Imagery evokes emotion and emotion sells.

Getty Images carries out a webinar every year where they explain the trends in imagery. This webinar is usually aimed at designers but anyone can sign up for it.

If you want to make presenting a key marketing activity for your business then having the right tools is part of mastering your craft and becoming a memorable presenter. Investing your time in understanding what’s on trend will keep your slides looking fresh and current while helping you make sure your imagery really packs a punch.

About me

I’m Kayla Conley and I’m a presentations and public speaking skills coach. I work with people to help them shine when speaking publicly. I work with professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs and people who have an important speech to deliver. If you would like to find out how I can help you to combat your fears, give you a ton of confidence, help you to craft your presentation and have your audience eating out of the palm of your hand then contact me on: kayla@kaylaconley.com


  1. Carole Bozkurt

    Fantastic article Kayla – love the power of a soundbite.

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