Create Memorable, “Sticky” Slidedecks For Your Presentations


By Corrie Miller

In our last blog post we talked about why your presentation might fail to meet its objective (connect with your audience, convert the sale). One of the biggies: Bad slidedecks. If your visuals don’t add anything to your talk, you’re wasting your time and your audience is tuning out. Let’s address this and show you some examples of what works.

According to the  Media Education Centre, research at 3M Corporation has shown that:

The brain processes images a whopping 60,000 times faster than words.

It’s called the Image Superiority Effect.


Furthermore, in the same article it is said that Psychologist Albert Mehrabian demonstrated that:

93% of communication is nonverbal.

Yes body language, eye contact and the like are crucial, but a big part of that non-verbal communication is what visuals you choose to compliment what you say.

Incorporating images into your presentations:

a) Gets your audience’s attention

b) Can contradict a point to be provocative, or for humour’s sake and

c) Reinforces a point to make it resonate with the audience. It makes it “sticky”.

Key messages strategically placed alongside your use of images can go a long way to aiding the retention of your subject matter in the classroom, in a sales pitch, or at that keynote address.

Ultimately if your audience remembers what you spoke about they remember you.

In my previous post I gave this example of what not to do:

Who hasn’t at some point been in a lecture hall where the speaker/teacher droned on and on (and.on.) while you frantically took notes, all the while not hearing one iota of what was being said? Yep, me too.

So what does work?

Here are some examples of Calculated Presentations’ slides using images to aid in the audience’s retention of information. These were used in a recent presentation given on the topic of presenting. Notes were available afterward.

If you have a very information-heavy presentation, speak to that fact but use fewer slides and hand out the notes afterward. Letting your audience know that you will have information for them after the talk let’s the audience relax and enjoy your presentation without having to worry about scribbling their way through it.

Always remember when putting together your next presentation that:

Images evoke emotion and emotion is what makes people remember. It’s what makes people BUY: Your product and  your idea.

Many companies still require their employees to present with very text-heavy branded slidedecks. If that is what you are up against, we would challenge you to insert just one or two slides where images serve as the backdrop to your information into your next presentation. Change can be made but sometimes it just takes some time to change conventional thought. When your presentations are getting that sale or influencing your audience and the competition isn’t, conventional wisdom will change.

Good luck!

To Your Voice




The great thing about long weekends? They give you a little more time to play without the guilt.

From the previous blog post “How to Build a Presentation – Step 1” I created a Haiku Deck. It’s a little different than my style—busier and the colour palette is mixed.

What do you think? Here it is in SlideShare (update some of the slides didn’t load into SlideShare — I’m working on it) :


Build presentation pt_1 from jantom



The strength of Haiku Deck is that it forces you to condense and simplify your content, which we all know is how slidedecks need to be built. A great excercise to encourage those of us who tend to get a little wordy (finger pointing at myself here).

Give it a try. I’d love to see what you come up with. If you send me a link I’ll share your designs here.

To your voice,





Don’t put pen to paper.

Don’t put a Sharpie™ to whiteboard.

And absolutely do not open up PowerPoint.

To build a presentation that will have your audience savouring your nuggets of wisdom like Tootsie Rolls Pops™ begin with brainstorming.

The fun stuff. Especially for those of you, who, like me, are lovers of sticky notes, coloured felt pens, and a little lots of chaos.

The first steps of creating a presentation are often the hardest. Impatience jumps in—we want it DONE and have our eyes on the goalpost instead of savouring the process.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

The beginning is where patience pays in spades. It is the foundation for the creativity that will make your presentation shine.

Try this first—Marc Heleven has put together a slidedeck that will open the tap to your creative juices. Spend a few minutes here and let’s see what transpires:


I know, you are itching to start peeling the sticky pad.  But we need to back pedal…just a little.

What is your key message? What do you want your audience to know, think, or do?

Now grab the sticky note pad!

Riff away and put ink to paper—what do you think your key message is?

Aim for five, ten, or 15 ideas. Which three stand out?

Which one has fog horns blaring and is making your heart beat? That’s the one.

Now on your white board, wall, or desktop it’s time to really get rolling and make note of everything that comes to mind — took a while didn’t it? Everything (yes, everything) that comes to mind that relates to your key message (you can fudge here and include ideas that slide under the bar and are a little off topic) gets a sticky of it’s own.

Keep going until you run out of ideas.

And check back for Part II.

To Your Voice,




Would you have thought that it is listening?


It is.


The pivotal point when public speakers move from good to great is when they listen to their audience and understand what they (the audience) need to hear.

This sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it? Our natural tendency is to share what we know (often cramming in far too much). Of course your vision and insight  is what you will be sharing but the secret is in how you will do it. How you share your ideas so they resonate so deeply with your audience they become your rabble rousing cheering section.

It’s done through thoughtful and strategic listening.

Gary Vaynerchuk spoke in Vancouver at the Financial Post’s Reach 2012 event this past week. He listens. Gary shared the secret to his success, “I’m always thinking from the customer perspective”.  Sounds easy doesn’t it? It’s not — it takes time and introspection.

Gary is where his customers are. He finds them on social media and he travels internationally to speak with them. Yes, I said speak “with”. Gary is a master at getting down on the floor and speaking with his audience and creating lively discussion. This is the  mark of a great public speaker — one who really listens to the questions and responses. He looks into individuals audience members eyes and “hears” what they are saying.

Listen at the 4:40 mark of Gary’s interview with Entrepreneur. He shares with us how many emails and tweets he responds to in comparison to what he blasts out. The skew is heavily weighted on the listening and discussion side. For example:

response to my tweet at #FPReach2012

response to my tweet at #FPReach2012









Not only does he listen while he is presenting, he is listening before and after his presentations. And he engages.

Gary also talks about the importance of story. A subject that has been batted about many times in this blog. But no story can be built or told until you know what your audience wants to hear.




Listen to your audience before you even begin to think of putting pen to paper or start creating your storyboard for your next presentation. That’s how you will create cheerleaders, fans, and customers who will in turn listen and engage with you.

To Your Voice,







Have you read a book that you wished that you had written yourself? My colleague Jeremy Donovan has done just that.

Jeremy is the author of “How to Deliver a TED Talk, Secrets of the World’s Most Inspiring Presentations”. His book although unassuming in size is an insightful perspective from a well-respected speaker and speaker coach.

As I read Jeremy’s book I was impressed with the depth of knowledge that he has shared for anyone who not only wants to deliver a TED Talk but also for those who want to deliver any format of a compelling presentation.

The strength of “How to Deliver a TED Talk” is in the examples. As Jeremy describes technique he gives examples from some of the most inspiring TED Talks.


With good introspection he picks up on subtle nuances that make the difference between a good talk and an excellent one.

In one example Malcolm Gladwell’s spaghetti sauce speech is used to guide the reader to use stories to illuminate presentations. Jeremy describes the difference between showing and telling (there is a big difference). This is how excellent presenters keep you captivated and others fall flat.

Jeremy also uses Brene Brown’s powerful and thought provoking presentation as an example of a strong conclusion. Brown uses three transitional phrases to mark her conclusion. Jeremy identifies them and demonstrates the impact that these phrases have. He also teases apart her delivery method of using pauses for emphasis with her concluding words and highlights her use of questions to raise the level of tension.

One of the best pieces of advice given is at the conclusion of Jeremy’s book where he encourages speakers to get out and speak. To become a confident public speaker is in the doing not in the reading. Which is why if you want to give a TED talk or any other kind of presentation you should read Jeremy’s book, use his insight to construct your foundation, and then get out there and practice.

To Your Voice


*I was given a copy of this book for the purpose of providing a book review.


Do you want to be an excellent public speaker?

Then you must be a good listener as well as a powerful and articulate speaker. Not only before and after your presentation but during as well. You must be a human antenna attuned to your audience at every stage of your presentation from content development, while presenting, and post speaking.

Julian explains the elements of a good listener:

How can you put Julian’s insight into practice as a public speaker?

During the content development stage you must know your audience or you will be a lecturer not a public speaker. Know your audience intimately by brainstorming the nuances of the attendees who you want to persuade. Here is an audience analysis example that a marketing firm created so they could understand who their client’s customer is. They listened and understood how best to approach their clients because they now understand how to direct their message. Sit with a piece of paper and think about who your audience – there habits and beliefs – to understand which are the best pieces of your insight to share.

While presenting watch your audience – are they intent or are they looking restless? Are they responding to you with nods of agreement or are they engaged in their smartphones. When we listen our audience gives us clues as to whether to increase the volume or let us know if we need to change the direction of our content.

If you have the opportunity meet your audience attendees ask if there is something you can expand upon or if there is a concept they did not understand. Or send a survey post event and learn what resonated and what didn’t. Then listen sharply and take comments away for your next presentation.

Listening is easy but really listening, understanding, and then deploying is hard.

To your voice,


Do you want to learn how to polish your public speaking skills? Check out my bimonthly newsletter.


Presentations should only be used when you have something important to communicate. Information or ideas that solve a problem or answer a question needs to be a presentation developers mandate.

So, ask yourself, is it really necessary to gather a group together for a presentation?

If 40 people attend a one hour presentation it equals one person working a 40 hour week.

Is your presentation’s message important enough to invest a week of time?


At the end of a session with a client I ask, “What did you learn today that had the most impact?”

One common response is “Staying on Message”.

It is easy to become enchanted with your knowledge and to share all you know. Or go off on tangents because the content is remotely related. Or even worse interject a story that is entirely off topic.

Don’t do it! Your audience will become confused and you will lose them.

The first order of business when developing a presentation is to understand what is the message that you want your audience to take away. Yes, just one message.

While crafting your presentation test that all of your content can withstand your message litmus test.

Your audience will thank you.


My go to public speaking and presentation resource treasure trove (aka learn from the experts – no need to rinse and repeat the mistake cycle):

Duarte Design: Nancy Duarte and her team generously share their deep and broad presentation knowledge. Nancy is the author of slide:ology and resonate – two go-to-guides for building professional presentations. The Duarte team showcase the subtle nuances that separate good speakers from excellent ones. Here’s my favourite post to date, which outlines the musicality of presentation content design.

The Eloquent Woman is written by Denise Graveline. Denise’s journalistic and communications background hone in on presentation and public speaking tips and techniques. I am always on the lookout for examples of powerful women speakers to share with my clients and Denise graciously has created a brilliant compilation.

The world’s your oyster at TED the amazing platform where ideas worth spreading are, well, spread. TED presentation’s span themes and styles. The site hosts the fabulous to the not so fabulous and is great fodder for discovering what works and doesn’t. All time fav – Evelyn Glennie, a deaf drummer, who champions the importance of listening. I’ve watched this clip over and over again.

IDEATRANSPLANT is the site for juicy and luscious presentation design. Jan Schultink, a presentation developer located in Israel, is the master of building slidedecks that connect message to emotion.

And last but certainly not least – Ana Foureaux Frazao of AnaFxFz creates gorgeous slidedecks – her graphic design smarts is impeccable. Ana created the PowerPoint (TM) for Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment“, which I saw in real life at the Art of Marketing Conference in Vancouver and will vouch for its awesomeness.

Enjoy and to your voice!



Often executives receive a script from their Communication Department with messaging that is convoluted and hard for their audience to listen to.

The point of gaining media exposure is to engage and persuade your audience, not to alienate them with PC talk or messaging that those in the ranks of Mensa can’t tease apart.

Mr. Media Training aka Brad Philips shares his experience on how to write clear messaging that your audience will immediately grasp. When you grasp them, you engage them!

This ever happen to you?

Before I started working with this client, its communications staff had drafted a few messages for their top spokespersons that were almost impossible to speak aloud during a media interview. Brad Phillips ~ Mr Media Training

Those who write and present using convoluted words and terms that are beyond the audience comprehension actually lose rather than impress. They miss their opportunity to connect and gain trust through their executive presentations.

What do you think? If you are a user of “big” words have we changed your mind?

*Strunk and White’s “The Element of Style” is the bible of clear writing – if you haven’t read it, do – it will help you develop invaluable writing and business presention skills. Find a free downloadable copy here on Scribt.

Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.