How to Give a Good Presentation: 5 Tips From Startups
Tips and real-world examples on how to give a good presentation — ones that get investors on board, motivate teams, and get buy-in from management.
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Nerves are one thing.
Getting your audience to take action?
Now that’s a challenge.
In this post, I’ll share tips and real-world examples on how to give a good presentation — you know, ones that get investors on board, motivate your team, and get buy-in from management.
Don’t worry; these are not the usual tips you find on Google (“Smile and make eye contact.” Duh!). These are tips that startup founders and marketers have tried and tested themselves.
Let’s turn you into a presentation pro!
1. Highlight biggest accomplishments right away
Why bury your track record when you can put it front and center?
Spotlight your strengths at the start to grab your audience’s attention instantly.
Check out this pitch deck presentation by Massimo Chieruzzi, an entrepreneur and co-founder of AdEspresso.
At that time, AdEspresso was not widely known in the VC circles. But as you can see from the slide above, it had excellent traction.
Together with his co-founders, Massimo showed this slide on the big screen before introducing their company.
This tactic worked so well that Massimo repeated it when raising funds for his new startup, Breadcrumbs. His first slide? You guessed it — a visual of his team’s successful exit with AdEspresso.
No better way to show investors this isn’t his first rodeo.
“Start with your superpower, whatever makes you special. Have a lot of traction or revenue? Start with that. Investors might not know or be excited about your space. But they’re always interested in a hockey stick revenue chart. Don’t have revenue, but you’re one of the top experts in the world in your field? Put that up front, not in the last slide.”
Massimo Chieruzzi, entrepreneur and co-founder of Breadcrumbs
Pro tip: Leverage FOMO (Fear of missing out) in the last slide.
Compare these two versions.
“500 Startups Demo Day is two weeks away and valuation will increase. Invest now to secure this lower valuation.”
Version A shows a bold statement that drives urgency, whereas Version B ends on an underwhelming note.
2. Give your team the recognition they deserve
Earlier on, you learned about highlighting your biggest accomplishments right from the get-go.
According to Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, here are two more ways to supercharge your results in the next slides of your presentation:
- Explain how specific departments contributed to your success
- Name individuals on each team who played an important role
Here’s how your talking points might look when you put these into practice:
“Last year, we launched our freelancing marketplace, and it attracted 112% conversions in Q3. We couldn’t have done it without teamwork. The customer support team helped freelancers with their profiles and stepped in when they needed help with client communication. The marketing team posted behind-the-scenes photos and giveaway contests on Instagram. Just last week, Cassie created a GIF that [Influencer] reposted it on her profile. We increased our followers by 129%.”
Not only does this approach create a memorable impression when meeting stakeholders, but it’s also a powerful way to show appreciation for your team members.
“This format works because it helps everyone feel included and invested in the organization’s achievements. Being a team or individual highlighted is recognition and motivation to contribute similarly again.”
Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding
3. Include high-level visuals
It gets dull quickly when you’re reading 20 slides full of text at one go — and this says a lot from a writer.
Mike Sadowski, CEO at Brand24, uses high-level visuals (e.g., screenshots, graphs, polls, charts) to maintain his audience’s attention.
This photo by Brand24 is a great one. It shows the media monitoring tool in action and fills in the audience’s curiosity gap.
Seema Nayak, SEO and content marketing manager at AdChina.io, uses numbers and visuals to back up her statements.
A few months ago, when Seema was presenting her SEO strategy, she used visuals to show what the company can expect in terms of numbers if they continue to invest in the channel.
“Using visuals helped convince management. They’re now excited about the impact of organic channels for the business.”
Seema Nayak, SEO and content marketing manager at AdChina.io
In this presentation slide, Seema adds a graph sourced from an expert’s website (in this case, Jacob McMillen, a content strategist well known in the marketing circle) to prove her point.
Pro tip: Make sure your slides complement your talking points.
“Slides should add to what is being said. Focus on finding a visual that makes your audience go, ‘Ah yeah’.”
Simon Nazer, founder of World. Image. Design
In other words, your slides shouldn’t act as a script. They should help illustrate your points so your audience understands what you’re trying to convey.
When Simon Nazer, founder of World. Image. Design, did a presentation on signal versus noise, he attached this visual in his slide.
Note how he doesn’t write something like “Signal: Useful information” and “Noise: Useless information.” It would have been redundant, as he mentioned it in one of his talking points.
Instead, he created a high-level visual to illustrate his key message.
4. Focus on metrics your audience cares about
Here’s a tough pill to swallow:
The metrics we care about? Most of them rarely mean a thing to management.
Marketers, picture the last time you did a presentation in front of the CEO or department head. How often did they tune out when you share a keyword position, bounce rate, or time on site?
At Jobber, Nick Keyko, the director of marketing, doesn’t focus on the number of articles published or keywords ranked.
He focuses on money-making metrics, like how unique visitors result in new leads and paying customers.
Show how these metrics tie back to the end goal. In Jobber’s case, it’s paying customers.
“Learn what your leadership team cares about. To inspire action, focus on the key metrics that demonstrate that value.”
Nick Keyko, director of marketing at Jobber
Adding multiple content types like metrics and visuals sourced from different places tends to create an inconsistent design.
If you want your presentation slides to match in style without spending hours designing, try Graphue.
Graphue offers premade templates for almost all kinds of industries (from logistics to kindergarten, and more).
It’s easy to change text, colors, fonts, and images. Drag and drop, select the edits you’d like to make, and Graphue will do the rest.
Stuck? Check out the instruction file included. It’ll guide you through the process.
Each template costs $24 (commercial use), but for a limited time, you can get over 125 premium templates for $39 on AppSumo.
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5. Turn it into a conversation
Think back to the most boring presentation you’ve listened to. I bet you were bored to tears because the presenter was droning on and on, as if they were the only person in the room.
Mind-numbing, isn’t it?
Great presentations, according to Allie Decker, head of content at Omniscient Digital, feel more like a conversation instead of a one-way chat.
Here’s what you should do: Take the opportunity to ask questions. Add notes in your talking points to remind yourself to pause.
For example, if you’re presenting one-on-one to a client, recap what they previously said in an email or onboarding call.
“I’ll also ask confirming questions, such as:
‘In our kick-off call, you mentioned wanting X represented in the deliverable, correct? (Yes.)
Great, this was our idea to address that need.’
It’s helpful to relay requests from previous conversations in a question format to trigger their memory and leave opportunities for them to share updates or changes on their end.”
Allie Decker, head of content at Omniscient
Pro tip: Prep your audience before beginning your presentation.
Better yet, do this together with Tip #1. Highlight your accomplishments in the first slide.
What do I mean by prep?
Omniscient Digital co-founder, David Ly Khim, starts with context setting to mentally prepare his audience for what he’s about to share in his presentation.
“Think about your audience. They might have just gotten off another call. They might have come from another meeting. Or they might be in the middle of a project that’s taking up most of their headspace.
They have something else on their mind.
You want to help them transition into paying attention to your presentation. And the way to do that is to set the context and help prime them for the information you’re about to present.”
David Ly Khim, co-founder of Omniscient Digital
If you’re presenting to a crowd, tell a relevant story to set the context.
It can be a fictional story or a recent conversation you just had.
Imagine you’re a content strategist presenting a webinar to a group of business owners skeptical about content marketing. You might start with:
“Four months ago, I met the CEO of a field service company, and he said flat out that content marketing doesn’t work in his industry. I disagreed. I came up with a content strategy, which he applied for the next three months. Just last week, he secured a big deal worth millions of dollars. Maybe you, too, are skeptical about what content can do for your business. So that’s what I’m going to show you today…”
But your audience just might give you their 100% attention.
Stakes are high: create beautiful and professionally designed presentations today
Go big with your presentations.
When you create a professional presentation that impresses, you secure internal buy-in and new businesses.
Here’s what I want you to do from today onward:
- Highlight your biggest accomplishments in the first slide, and leverage FOMO to drive urgency in the last slide.
- Give your team the recognition they deserve! Talk about how each department and team member contributed.
- Include high-level visuals, including polls, graphs, charts, or screenshots that show your product in action. Remember: Your slides shouldn’t act as a script. Make sure they complement your talking points.
- Focus on metrics that the audience cares about, and lastly,
- Turn your one-sided presentations into conversations. Ask questions if you’re presenting one-on-one. Tell a fictional story or a recent conversation you had if it’s a crowd.
If you’re tired of designing your presentation slides from scratch, check out Graphue.
You’ll get access to over 125 premium templates spanning a wide range of industries. Kindergarten, logistics, construction, you name it.
Grab the Graphue Presentation Templates lifetime deal for $39 on AppSumo today.
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Now go (re)create your presentation and convince your audience to say yes.