How TED Talks Can Help You Create Better Client Presentations

One of the challenges of client presentations is they are often given over the phone or through a web conferencing system. You don’t have the ability to utilize body language or see the reactions of those around you.

In turn, it’s extremely frustrating when you spend a couple hours putting something together and there is no conversation or questions around what you just said. Did they even get it?

To create a better client presentation, whether it’s a sales pitch, a monthly report, or a presentation on content ideas, we have to go above and beyond bullet point slides. We have to figure out how to get the message across in a way that’s interesting to everyone involved and will get our audience, even if they are on the phone, more engaged.

Enter TED.

TED Talks

As a speaker, I’m always trying to figure out how to be better. I spend time watching videos of other people speaking, reviewing Slideshare presentations, and of course reading books.

The latest book I read, Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo, looks at some the basic elements of every TED talk and what makes them successful. As I read it, I started thinking about how I could use these tips not just for public speaking, but also in my client presentations.

Taking three key elements from the book, I’ve outlined below how TED talks can help you create better client presentations:

1. Master the Art of Storytelling

vintage books and a cup of coffee,free copy space

So often when we put together reports, they are just that…reports. They highlight some numbers, showcase what’s been done, and offer a few insights into what we’ll be doing next. A report should tell a story.

Take for example a monthly client report. The goal shouldn’t be to just provide an overview. The goal should be to put together a presentation that not only gives data, but also explains what the data means, and provides the client with a look at overall program performance in a way that matters to them (Kerry Dean gave a great presentation around this at SMX last year).

In fact, in reviewing a client report the other day, Brendan and I talked a lot about the story we were trying to tell and how we needed to better communicate it to the client. The result was a more cohesive report that tied data, initiatives, and client goals together.

The same thing applies to a sales pitch or a link building campaign pitch. There must be a story.

2. Use Visuals to Enhance Words

One of my favorite lines around presentations doesn’t come from TED, but comes from Rand Fishkin of Moz:

While bullet points may not actually kill kittens (TBD), an entire presentation of bullet point slides is going to be pretty boring. Images (graphs, screenshots, photos, etc.) can make a presentation much more interesting. And memorable.

According to Gallo,

“Scientists have produced a mountain of evidence showing that concepts presented as prictures instead of words are more likely to be recalled…”If you hear information, you are likely to remember about 10 percent of that information three days later. Add a picture, however, and your recall will soar to 65 percent.”

When creating a client presentation, think about how visuals can help explain what you are trying to say. Also consider what it is you want to the client to takeaway from the report. Can a visual help make that point more memorable?

For SEO reports (or even sales pitches), take for example something as simple a title tag. Instead of just writing what a title tag is, provide an image of where the title tag is and why it matters.

3. End on a High Note

Truthfully, the advice to “end on a high note” reminds me more of George Costanza then TED talks but I love the suggestion.

Regardless of what your presentation is about, the end needs what Gallo calls a “showstopper.” According to him, “The showstopper seals the deal and permanently brands the message in our minds.”

For us, the showstopper of our monthly reports is the highlights from the previous month. We like to show what went well and get the client excited about the program and the next steps. It’s maybe not mind blowing but it does end the presentation on a high note and end the story in a positive way.

Think about how you can end your client presentations on a high note – maybe it’s a highlight of what went well or maybe it’s a graph/chart showcasing the potential of a program. Whatever it is, it should excite the client and make them remember why they hired you in the first place.

Talk Like TED

While our client presentations certainly won’t be as awesome as some of the TED talks out there, using some of the key TED talk elements can make them better and in turn, help you create better reports, sales decks, strategy presentations, and more.

If you’re interested in reading the book Talk Like TED, it can be found on Amazon here.

Featured photo credit: TED Conference via

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