Winning Presentations: The Art and Science of PowerPoint

A presentation serves as a valuable tool when looking to inform or come to a decision. The content, aesthetics, and delivery matter equally in educating and gaining buy-in. The presenter takes on the role of a story teller, instead of, simply, a messenger. An effective presentation changes the hearts and minds of your audience.

Know your Audience

Your audience requires a tailored message and story. Adjust the amount of detail dependent on the decision-making level of the group. A business owner or senior executive needs to understand the general concept and implications of the material. Save the details for the appendix but prepare for any questions that might come up.

Sample page sharing an observation and corresponding indicators

When presenting to executives, save granular details for the appendix

For the same subject matter, a non-management employee depends on the added detail as this may have implications for his/her work. ECA, a project staffing and executive search agency, formally hosted a workshop where ex-consultants taught the concepts around hypothesis development and presenting data. With sound fundamentals around gathering the right information, you can tell the right story, to the right audience.

The 'Look and Feel'

A presentation might prove to have more impact than originally intended. Colleagues and professionals typically share and discuss the content outside of the original meeting or forum. A polished look and feel ensures your message and intent is clear without you having to present the material. Utilize consistent formatting when choosing typefaces and fonts. I like using Source Sans Pro as it’s a clean sans-serif typeface; LinkedIn uses it as it’s primary type family. Avoid distracting colors, images, and page elements as they can detract from the message.

Use consistent formatting to avoid distracting your audience


The Situation, Complication, Resolution framework (S-C-R) helps with telling the story. This structured approach keeps your audience engaged by telling them what they need to know. The “Situation” consists of the facts and assumptions that your group can agree on. “Complication” pertains to the analysis and deduction in the current environment. Finally, the “Resolution” provides the solution to the complication.

The S-C-R Framework

The order in which you choose to present the S-C-R framework sets the tone for your story. A natural flow opens with the situation and closes with the resolution, while, something with more urgency, starts with the complication and ends with the resolution. The Entrepreneurship Club at Columbia University further explains the S-C-R framework in The Art of PowerPoint Communication.

A story teller leverages their presentation to captivate and persuade. The message changes dependent on the audience and delivery method. Next time, win over your audience with an effective presentation.

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