The 10 principles of effective presentations. Hint: it’s all in the structure!

Written by Matteo Cassese

The 10 secret principles behind all successful presentations. Hint: it's all in the structure!

In this post I am going to give you 10 quick practical and actionable principles that you can learn in less than 10 minutes and apply to your next presentation. I am under the assumption that you haven’t got time. That’s what happens in an office: you have to give a presentation and that is a task on top of all your normal work. I feel for you because I’ve been there!

Let’s imagine that you meet me. Oh, I’m kind of a presentation freak by the way. I have a framework to create better presentations and a mission to save you. There are less than 24 hours before your presentation. And I have just 10 minutes to distill my best advice for you: here are my top 10 presentation tips in less than 10 minutes from PRESENTATION HERO in form of video, slideshow or post.

Presentation Hero – The Video

Presentation Hero – The Slides

Presentation Hero – The Post

If videos or slides just don’t do it for you you can find below the same content, but in good old text format.

1. Know who your audience will be.


If you have the time to do one thing, then devote all of it to knowing your audience. Your presentation is for your audience, they are the ones that have to benefit from it.

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience, try to imagine what would they want to get from your presentation. Try also to imagine how your audience relates to your topic and to you, think about the ways you can simplify the relationship between them and your material.

2. Tell your audience who you are.


Make sure that everyone in the room has understood your name but that they are also able to describe who you are.

So many great presentations are ruined by not following this simple tip. Don’t let your audience discover at the last slide that you are the most renown expert in your field, don’t let them have a guess at your humanity, tell them who you are straight away.

I always make sure that the audience is already listening when I state the topic of the presentation, tell my name, and explain – in as few words as possible – who I am.

3. Tell your audience why you are there.


Within the first 2 minutes of your presentation explain your motivation for presenting. Let your unique knowledge and perspective show, help your audience understand how passionate you are about what you are going to talk about, how important to you what you are going to do and say is.

If it means a lot to you, chances are it will mean a lot to your audience.

4. Tell your audience why they are there.


Within the first 5 minutes of your presentation provide your audience with a sample of the advantage they will get by following your presentation. Show them what they will gain from your presentation and, more importantly, how it will change them.

5. Develop a story based on a transformation that you wish to happen in your audience.


Make sure that you provide sufficient information to produce a meaningful change in your audience. This can come by providing a new insight on a known topic, by introducing a completely new concept, or even by making them doubt about something they have always taken for granted.

If your presentation will not produce some kind of change in your audience, then it’s a presentation not worth giving.

If you are not eliciting a change, then you are not providing enough content. And if you are not providing enough content, your material is not worth presenting. So: no change, no presentation!

6. Understand that each member of your audience will react differently to your material.


Some of them will understand immediately, many will reject your ideas, some will just be confused, some will look for the quick and dirty shortcuts and the tweetable content rather than understanding your topic deeply, while other will be curious about your data and about your research. Try to give something to all those individuals, knowing that you will never make everyone happy (surely not everyone at the same time).

7. Mark the moment you transfer the most important concept as your high point.


I’m talking about a climax.

This is the moment where your audience understands that they have arrived at the core of your idea, that the path is downhill from there. Your audience knows that this marks also the beginning of the end of the presentation. Don’t disappoint them by remaining on stage too long after your main climax.

8. Provide a summary of your topic.


After the climax provide your audience with a summary, a birds eye view of the material that you’ve covered. It will provide meaning to them, it will reinforce the meaning of the climax and it will help them not only make sense of your material but also aid them in remembering.

9. Provide some actionable points.


Show your audience how they can apply the new knowledge into their every day. This is the best gift you can leave them with. Now it’s time for you to leave. You’re allowed to end on a hope, a wish, a word of wisdom. Make it quick though.

10. Make sure you feel comfortable with your material.


If you are not it will show, and no presentation trick will save you. Know your stuff. Period. Otherwise head back to the library and study, study, study!

Presentations shed a spotlight on your abilities. Make sure that your first ability is related not to presentation structure, design or delivery, but to the topic that you are presenting.

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Who is Matteo Cassese?

Hi! I’m a marketing consultant and an enthusiastic entrepreneur with experience working for multinational companies (Warner Bros.), teaching at a university (Link Campus University), and consulting for entertainment companies (Netflix). I’m a scholar of storytelling and have dug deep into screenwriting techniques, mythology, and trans-media narratives. This passion is translated in the simple structure template that you get in all my courses. In my free time I enjoy driving cars (fast).

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