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  • Writer's pictureGail Agronick

KISS Your Way to Presentation Success

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Jess is excited, but understandably nervous, about an upcoming presentation in a new job. A recent college grad, this biochemist felt more confident after I explained the key to fantastic presentations.

KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly!

The operative word here is simple, but simple doesn’t mean simplistic. Simple, particularly over Zoom, means focused, engaging, and easily remembered.

Focused. We are only able to retain a limited amount of information at a time. Effective presentations typically address a maximum of the three main points. Provide a clear structure for your presentation, and share the topics to be addressed up front. Everything should easily fall under one of these main points. Before including an example or detail, ask, “Is this essential? Will it resonate?” Know your audience. Tailor content specifically for these listeners.

Engaging. Stark text, images, and video are powerful. Use as few words as possible to get your point across. This takes work, but visual simplicity is quite effective. A powerful image (photo, video, graph) is more memorable than text. Mix media to hold people’s attention, but use text and images strategically. If your audience is merely bombarded visually, your main points will be lost.

You, as a speaker, must also be engaging to compete against the urge to multitask - particularly on Zoom. Open with something unexpected. Capture viewers’ attention from the start.

Practice your presentation until you are able to speak in a relaxed manner without detailed notes. Vary your tone. Play with facial expressions (without becoming a caricature of yourself). If you and your audience are in the same room, move about. Be aware of distracting, nervous behavior, such as swinging your arms or tapping a pencil excessively.

Easily remembered. Prepare a slide outlining your main talking points. Share it early, as each main point is introduced, and at the end of your presentation. The first time presented, this slide will contain main points only. Expand this slide, adding essential bulleted details, as you move to the next portion of your presentation. (Remember, less is more. Always use words sparingly). Use a summary slide, containing all supporting bullets, to reinforce your main points and to wrap up. This visual aid will reinforce your message and anchor your audience.

In sum, a fantastic presentation is simple: focused, engaging, and easily remembered.


Gail Agronick, principal of WorksWrite, brings her experience as a research psychologist, educator, published author, and former costume character to each client.

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