What Should Your Audience Be ‘Feeling’ By The End of Your Presentation?

October 23, 2023

(Sends email nervously.)

(Walks into presentation with anxiety.)

(Sees ‘read’ message and eagerly awaits response.)

If these are emotions you’ve ever felt before when sending or delivering a presentation, well, then…you’re not alone.

However, there are ways to solve around this and ‘controllables’ to optimize how your response is being perceived by your audience, leaving you in a position of strength.

In this article, we’re going to cover how your audience should (ideally) feel by the end of your presentation.

The hope: that you can design with these target feelings in mind, and use them as a mental ‘checklist’ to put you and your business in the best position for success.

Your Presentation…In A Sea of Noise

Before heading towards what we want our audience to feel, we have to think through what the typical viewer of your presentation may be feeling on a typical day:

  • Overwhelm: Many opportunities potentially sent their way. A constant flow of decks. Other operational tasks also clogging schedules. Personal tasks and challenges.
  • Confusion: Lingo overuse. Text overwhelm. Lack of linear flow. Hard to read text.
  • LP Pressure (Or Owner Pressure If Family Office, Personal Pressure if Angel, Competing Priorities If Your Boss): Consciousness. A default ‘heavily no’ position until it’s ’f*ck yeah.’ The balance of needing to deploy capital with being incredibly measured about their bets. The desire to place fewer higher quality bets than a large amount of passive spray bets (for value-add investors/partners).
  • Monotony: Another day, another pitch on another social app. Or wellness gummy. Or small-impact initiative. Or standard design/structuring.
  • Stagnation: Limited vision on next step prioritization. Inefficient org planning.

The Antidote

So if our audience is our ‘customer’ here, and we’re trying to design for impact and delight (all things equal), how exactly do we think about this?

Well, it’s quite simple. We just reverse engineer what else they may be seeing (above) and use the positive version as our checklist:

  • Simplicity and Calmness: Make it very easy for your audience to see your presentation. Make it an oasis of calm and delight. A hygge of opportunity.
  • Clarity and Pointedness: Make your presentation five-year-old friendly. If it’s absolutely required to use lingo, then define it simply. And ensure you’re limiting to one ‘primary message’ per page.
  • Trust: Share both the pros and cons of your business (see our recent counterintuitive article here on ‘Sharing the Scary’). The surprise benefit: not only does it feed them the information they need, it also gets you to a faster yes/no, thereby optimizing your time!
  • Dynamism/Excitement/Delight: Three primary levers here: (1) Your business and its business model (note: dynamism doesn’t mean ‘crazy,’ business model elegance can be a form of dynamism as well!) (2) Presentation design (3) Presentation copy
  • Momentum/Urgency: Regardless of the stage of your business, you want to clearly depict the logic and prioritization of the next steps you must take that will accelerate your business as well as the next milestone(s) you want to get to.

The Target Feelings & Next Steps

Next time you have a presentation you need to create, try to read these requirements back to yourself in advance. Use this as the frame before you put any pencil to paper, even in ideation and strawman stage.

As you’re progressing in your presentation’s trajectory, do remember to adhere to our 30 second rule. And then as you finish producing the first draft of your deck, read through with the above ‘checklist’ in mind:

  • Am I making it very easy for my audience to receive and ingest my presentation?
  • Is my audience likely to feel all of the above target emotions throughout, and leave feeling atypical delight?
  • Am I designing to make the decision easy for my audience based on their core criteria? (vertical, stage, portfolio makeup, check size, TAM, etc; or if it’s a partner, hurdle rate, strategic priorities, etc)

Ensure these boxes are checked and you’ll be putting yourself in a top 1% presentation position.

We look forward to hearing about your success.

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