Presentation Style: How To Best Communicate Your Idea

August 7, 2013

Presentation Style: How To Best Communicate Your Idea |

Do you have a business idea you are dying to share?


You’re just not sure the best way to get people to listen?!


You must check out Nancy Duarte, owner and CEO of Duarte, Inc., the largest design firm and the 5th largest women owned business in Silicon Valley. Her passionate mission is to help professionals communicate their ideas in a really compelling way through presentations, “An idea is powerless if it stays inside of you.” But these are not your average, boring, humdrum presentations. Remember Al Gore’s influential An Inconvenient Truth? Yeah, that was the Duarte team. Originally, it was a keynote presentation that became an Oscar-winning movie. It was powerful, memorable and helped Al Gore get his world-changing message out.

Nancy believes there are three key components to a great presentation: content, slides and delivery. Fortunately for us, she has shared much of her knowledge in two best selling books, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences and slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations.

One of her most important lessons is the power of story. She scientifically proves its effectiveness in getting your idea to resonate with your audience. Nancy brilliantly uncovered a persuasive story pattern (aka. heartbeat) that has been unknowingly practiced for generations by many of the most effective presenters.

Watch Nancy apply her secret structure of great talks to Steve Jobs’ iPhone launch and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous, “I Have a Dream” speech during her popular TED talk. The technique to keeping your audience engaged is, “You’re constantly trying to lure them away from where they currently are and lure them towards your idea…contrasting what currently is juxtaposed to what could be.” Consistently applying a heartbeat to your presentation will eventually make your idea seem so compelling and advantageous that there is no better solution.

Another key takeaway from Nancy is her S.L.I.D.E. presentation tips. (Review them here from a Duarte team member at the 19:45 minute mark.) As a presenter, you want to provide your audience with information about your idea that is easy to digest. She recommends practicing design, not decoration with your slides. You want the supportive points to your idea to be visually crystal clear to your audience. Use one idea per slide and arrange your images and words in a way that is conducive to the way their ‘eye’ naturally flows across the slide.

So at this point you’re probably thinking, “This is great, but what does it have to do with fashion and what to wear while presenting?!”

As you know, I am a firm believer in strategically using what you wear as a business tool. Your presentation outfit has a big impact on the success of your idea being heard too. You need to view the entire room or stage where you’re giving your presentation as one big slide(show).

What you wear must visually reinforce your presentation message and layout.

Key questions to ask yourself are: What will be your surroundings when you give your presentation (ie. stage/room background colors or props)? Will you be walking, sitting or standing behind a table or podium? Will there be up-close video screenshots of you during your presentation? Is a mic pack required? How large is the room and how many attendees? Who is your target audience? What would they like to see you as their mentor wearing? Is there a dominant color or company brand color used throughout your screen slideshow? What types of outfits will prevent you from hiding behind your slides and make you feel powerful and enthused to authentically engage with your audience?

Answers to these questions will help you get clear on the ideal outfit that will support your presentation idea rather than distract. Visual distractions reduce the chances of your idea being heard which defies the whole purpose of your presentation. That’s why I most often recommend keeping your overall look polished, streamlined and contemporary.

The next time you’ve got an idea and want to share it with your company, investors or the world, let the art and science of fashion and presentations support your mission. Leave your audiences energized and ready to take action.

Were these presentation guidelines helpful? Do you think it will help you give a better one in the future?

Image credit: Lacey from A Lacey Perspective. Graphics by Kristina Moore for Corporate Fashionista.

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  • Anastasia Quiqs

    What you wear on presentation is really important. It’s well-known fact, people are more interested in speech and presentation, if they like the person who speak. And in some cases appearance&style are the only clues to come to opinion whether you like/dislike the speaker. Of course, perfect outfit can’t help if your presentation is a {shit}, but can help you reach more people if presentation is great. Thanks for advice! I’ve never thought about presentation dominant colors regarding to my own outfit.