Create Presentations That Aren’t Horrible & Boring

by Jason Lengstorf
@jlengstorf | jason.lengstorf@ibm.com

Let’s Pretend

Presentations Suck

Truly appalling PowerPoint slideSource: Chetan Sharma Consulting on Slideshare

...Except When They Don’t

What is this dude doing?Source: TED / Hans Rosling

What’s the Difference?

  • Better design?
  • Professional speakers?


The keys to a great presentation

  • Don’t get lost in the details.
  • Focus on the benefits to the audience.
  • Don’t rely too much on your slides.
  • Learn to pretend as if you know what you’re doing.
  • ...and then there’s The Ultimate Presenters’ Tool™.

What’s The Ultimate Presenters’ Tool™, you ask?

Mr. Burns and the mystery box

Tip #1

Don’t Get Lost in the Details

This Is My Sister

Aesch LengstorfHer stories are famously terrible.

Only Include Essential Details

“But all of these details are absolutely essential to my presentation!”

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
– Ernest Hemingway (probably apocryphal)

Tip #2

Focus on the

People are selfish

Use That

Focus on Benefits in

3 Easy Steps

Step 1:

Find the Thing That Hurts

Step 2:

Poke It

Step 3:

Offer a Better Solution

Shut up and take my money!

Tip #3

Don’t Rely Too Much on Your Slides

Slides are not a written report.

Slides are not notes for the speaker.

Slides are not a script.

Slides are not a collection of your favorite GIFs.

my current favorite GIF

This one is my favorite

Tip #4

Pretend You Know What You’re Doing

Practice Don’t memorize

Run Through ItOut Loud

RefreshBefore the Talk

“Defrosting” a talk can be harder than writing the thing in the first place.
– Lorna Mitchell

Now It’s Time for The Ultimate Presenters’ Tool™

Mr. Burns and the mystery box

Tip #5

Tell Stories

People Respond to Emotions

“But what if my topic is boring?”

A report on nominative determinism and its negative impact on socioeconomic status and mobility.


The story of four strangers who take a road trip to ask a politician for things they already have.

The Wizard of Oz

A detailed account of a grumpy alcoholic's poor life choices.

Charles Bukowski

Good stories follow an arc

story arc: hero
story arc: challenge
story arc: preparation
story arc: conflict
story arc: lessons

Air Your DirtyLaundry

Let’s Recap

How to make your next talk great:

  • Don’t get lost in the details.
  • Focus on the benefit to the audience.
  • Don’t rely too much on slides.
  • Pretend you know what you’re doing.
  • Tell stories.


Jason Lengstorf
@jlengstorf | jason.lengstorf@ibm.com