It’s always a little daunting writing a PowerPoint presentation, but if you break the process down into simple steps (and memorable acronyms), you’ll be able to get your ideas in order and slideshow ready.
Prior to writing your presentation, ask yourself the following questions:
- How do long do you have for the presentation? (This is vital as it will dictate just how much detail you can give and how attentive your audience will be)
- Who is your audience? (There’s a distinct difference in tone and delivery when presenting to an investor, a subordinate, a superior, or a potential client. Think about your target audience, what their common challenges/questions are, and what voice or tone they would best respond to.)
- What is the purpose of your writing for presentation? (This isn’t about messaging, but rather what action do you want to evoke from your audience)?
- What are the key things you want your audience to take away from your presentation? Objectives – Maybe you want to tell people about your amazing website. Maybe you want to tell a story. Whatever you want to accomplish, make sure you establish it in the beginning.
While the last two points may seem similar, the first is about action and the second is about thought.
Writing a PowerPoint Presentation: Structure
When it comes to writing and creating audience tension that helps them connect with your presentation narrative, remember to rule of three: introduction, tension, and climax.
Any introduction provides a setting, establishes the key elements, and hopefully begins your audience’s empathy for the story and its characters. Tension is thereby introduced through challenges that need to be overcome, by making these obstacles universal, audiences will relate to this sense of tension and be invested in finding the solution by the narrative’s end.
A classic screenwriting structure can be applied when writing a PowerPoint presentation called PASTO (Preparation, Attack, Struggle, Turnaround, Outcome). This technique is all about how scenes flows in terms of what characters want to happen, how they try to make it happen, and how they have to deal with the results.
Preparation – Your characters enter scene wanting something, knowing the obstacles that they face and the likely conflict that will arise, which means they should have some form of action prepared on their part.
Action – The characters interact, and conflict unfolds.
Struggle – The conflict becomes more dramatic as character’s actions heighten the conflict.
Turnaround – Something significant and surprising happens a result of the drama.
Outcome – Characters are now burdened with tackling the new issue that the turnaround has brought about.
Another common structure technique that can be helpful for writing a PowerPoint presentation – particularly on highlighting a product or service – is the AIDA technique (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action).
Attention: The purpose of your headlines, slide titles, and opening sentences is to grab audiences’ attention. You can this by posing a common question that your audiences may ask or experience; or outlining a promise that your product, service, or presentation will deliver upon.
Interest: This is about piquing your audiences’ interest, often through a useful fact, statistic, or benefit they could receive by using your product or service. Discuss the real benefits in detail and back these benefits with proof or some kind product/service of demonstration. Creating audience interest is about impressing them with case studies, facts, and figures compiled through your research.
Desire: This step is closely related to Interest. Once you’ve garnered the audience’s interest with facts and figures, you’ve got to help them build a strong emotional connection with what’s being said or presented. Desire means leading your audience to the realisation that your product or service is the best-suited solution to their problems, and they’d be foolish to ignore what you’re offering.
Action: This is common practice in all writing – include your call to action. Action about telling audiences how to purchase and what will happen next. If you’ve followed the AIDA method through to this point, it should be easy to close the deal since you’ve already created and sustained interest, convincing them that your product or service is something they need to make their life easier or better.
This is the time to drive action – create a sense of urgency in your audience and outline how they should proceed. If you’ve got a memorable and strong call to action the audiences should be compelled to purchase or at least consider your offering. Ensure you provide the audience with a means for contacting you (or your organisation) for more information in case they’re not ready to decide yet and need further convincing.
Writing a PowerPoint Presentation: Narrative
The key to audience connection is storytelling – using narrative to evoke empathy and demonstrate persuasion. A well-crafted and relatable narrative creates sympathy and connection with audiences, helping to personalise the experience and feel a sense of inclusion with the story being presented.
Personify your brand or message through a character or by addressing the audience directly. Introducing yourself or your immediate message won’t create empathy because the audience aren’t invested yet. If you create a character within your story that feels relatable and reflects your brand well, the introduction of tension will carry audiences on the journey more seamlessly.
The key is to craft a story that easily understanding or empathising with challenge your business or product solves.
As presentation designers, we are big on using visuals to create narratives, and this is best demonstrated through infographics. That ability to translate dry, dull data into a compelling story is our business mission. Data visualisation transforms numbers and figures into a narrative that is more likely to be understood and retained by audiences.
Infographics can also be interactive, which adds further audience immersion, allowing them to directly engage with the information and explore the data in a way that is visually compelling. This doesn’t just mean making the information more comprehensible, but also more relatable, easier to empathise and connect with.
If your audience is emotionally invested in your narrative, then (and I hate using another aphorism but) ‘leave them wanting more’. Audience catharsis should occur in your second act and a new sense of tension should be introduced or alluded to by your final slide. This is how you introduce a call to action.
Whether or not you address people’s questions directly is up to you. If you’re worried about an awkward silence after asking, ‘any questions’ – there are some simple workarounds. Offering your contact details at the end or printed on handouts can help shy audience members connect with you directly. It can also be useful setting up a social media page beforehand so people can post questions or make requests based on your presentation content.
For more information on writing a PowerPoint presentation, check out our Ultimate Guide to Content Writing, free to download here.