After deciding on the points you want to make in your upcoming presentation, you need to figure out how to support those points. For example, if your point is that your company has the largest market share in the industry, quote the research (hopefully done by a third party) that says so. This applies to both business presentations and educational presentations. The support you provide for your message is essential for an effective presentation.
In the Tell ‘n’ ShowSM method of creating effective presentations, you tell you point, then you show it. So, each point requires some validation, some evidence. Which validation you choose may depend on your audience. Some people want hard data, others want to know what the competition is doing, and still others may want the advice of an expert. A story that conveys a poignant situation may be effective. Sometimes, all you need is an image to show what you’re telling. If you say that the copier you sell fits on a small table, a photograph will suffice.
Here are the types of evidence you can use:
A photo is often a great way to show a point. You can use a photo in three ways:
- Literally: If you’re talking about a piece of equipment, show a photo of it rather than describe its specifications in bulleted text. You can use callouts that point to the various features and label them.
- Metaphorically: Sometimes a point you’re making is a concept, rather than a fact. For example, you may be talking about tough times ahead, so you could show a photo of a rocky road or a steep staircase.
- Schematically: If you’re talking about a process, you can show it with a diagram or add arrows to point out parts of a photo.
A diagram can show a process, hierarchy, or other relationships. You can use AutoShapes and arrows, the flowchart shapes with connectors (in the Lines category in PowerPoint 2007; otherwise in the Connectors category), or the SmartArt feature of 2007.
Charts (also known as graphs) visually display data, especially data showing a trend. Use only the data that supports your point, not all the data in the Excel spreadsheet where you got the data. If the data is too complex, it won’t be comprehensible on a slide. What to do? Print it out and give it to the audience as a handout.
When your data doesn’t clearly show a trend, use a table. You may have this data in Excel, and can even link to the Excel file.
Quotes are very powerful when they come from authorities or well-known individuals. In a persuasive presentation, you can use testimonials from other customers, for example.
Stories are powerful when they support your message. They can be personal, related to current events, examples from other customers, and so on. They can be full-blown situations, or simple examples. Collect stories as you hear them and keep them in a file for use later.