SlideRocket Blog

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Ways To Deliver a Killer Close

By Nat Robinson on April 8, 2010

The “close” – those last few minutes during which you summarize your key points and wrap up your thoughts and ideas – may be the most critical portion of your entire presentation.  It is your chance to go out with a bang.  Handle it right, and you’ll leave a lasting impression on your audience.  But botch it, and your entire presentation will fall flat.

The close may be the most critical portion of your entire presentation.

Here is some helpful advice for developing a “killer” presentation close:

1. Keep It Brief
The primary objective of your close is to reiterate the most important points of your slide deck in the most efficient, yet unforgettable way possible.  Studies show that your audience is more likely to retain what you say in those last few minutes, than they are any other section of your presentation.  So, try to keep it to as brief as you can.  Stick to three or four points at the most, to make your summary easy to remember.  Any more than that will dilute the impact.

2. Tell a Story
Stories, jokes, and anecdotes not only lend credibility to your content, they also help make it more memorable.  Tell a story that’s interesting and exciting as well as relevant to your presentation.  Or share a quote from a famous person that ties directly into the topics you’ve spoken about.  When they remember the story, your audience members will instantly recall the key points that relate to it.  An added benefit?  They may even repeat the story to others, further spreading your message.

3.  Don’t Forget the Call to Action
In many cases, you want your audience to take some sort of action once you’re done presenting.  Perhaps you’re a sales rep looking to convince a prospect to make a purchase.  Or, maybe you’re a trainer teaching a basic course, hoping that attendees will sign up to take the more advanced class.  Whatever your goal may be, be sure to remind audience members what the next steps are during your conclusion.

4. Stay on Schedule
Be respectful of audience time, especially if you’re presenting to business professionals with busy schedules.  If you run late, you’ll wear out your welcome and aggravate your attendees.  Even worse, it may completely ruin your last few slides, since people will be checking their watches, wondering if they’ll make it to their next appointment on time, etc. – instead of listening to what you’re saying.

5.  Lead Up to Your Ending Gradually
Audience members expect your presentation to include a summary.  So they tend to be more attentive when they think it is about to end, so they catch any key points they may have missed earlier on in the session.  Don’t end abruptly.  Drop subtle hints to let attendees know that you are nearing the conclusion, so you’ll have their undivided attention when you wrap-up.

Find more great tips and resources at the Presentation Skills Launch Pad.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Guidelines For Creating High Impact Training Presentations

By Nat Robinson on March 23, 2010

Training presentations are, perhaps, the most difficult to create and deliver.  There is usually a lot of ground to cover, and presenters will often struggle keep the audience interested during “marathon” sessions or multi-day courses.  Additionally, it is critical that attendees absorb as much information as possible, so the trainer must strike an effective balance between being entertaining, and stressing the importance of the content being delivered.

What are the best ways to create a highly effective training presentation?

1. Say it Again and Again and Again
It’s no secret that repetition is the key to retention.  The more times people hear an important idea, the more likely they are to remember it.  In fact, some studies have shown that by repeating a single thought six times, information recall jumps from just 10 percent, to close to 90 percent.  So, be sure to highlight the most important points of your presentation several times throughout your session – and one final time during your summary.

2. Give Pop Quizzes
What is the best way to make sure your students are paying attention?  Ask them a few quick questions about the content you’ve presented.  Break your presentation up into logical sections, and conduct a short pop quiz at the end of each.  This will help you gauge what information has been absorbed, and what may need to be covered again.

3.  Take a “Hands On” Approach
While watching and listening is conducive to teaching, studies show that people learn the most by actually doing something themselves.  This is known as kinesthetic learning.  Whenever possible, give your students hands-on exercises.  For example, have them carry out a task, use a product, or perform some other action that is directly related to what you’re trying to teach them.

4. Use a Blend of Audio and Visuals
Richard Mayer, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara has developed the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, which states that students learn better when presented with both words and pictures simultaneously.  The idea behind this is that when people process information through both visual and auditory channels together – instead of just one of those channels alone – they retain more.  So, when relevant, incorporate images, diagrams, photos, and other graphics into your slides to enhance or illustrate what you’re saying.

5. Know Your Audience
Different types of people have unique learning styles, and your content should be adjusted accordingly.  A presentation aimed at training executives and other business professionals should be structured very differently from one you would deliver if you were hosting a workshop about personal learning or self-improvement geared towards individuals.  Should you take a casual or formal approach? Do you include lots of research and statistics, or rely on funny stories and anecdotes?  Should you spend most of the time lecturing, or keep it interactive?  It all depends on who will be sitting in the audience.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery? Review our archive of presentation tips and check back every week for new posts.

SlideRocket SXSW Recap

By Chuck Dietrich on March 22, 2010

Our voices are hoarse and we’re stuffed full of BBQ and Tex-Mex. That’s right – we had a great time at SXSW Interactive in Austin!  We’re delighted to be back in San Francisco to share all the excitement with our team.

We had a blast talking to people about SlideRocket and meeting many of our fans face-to-face. It was also a thrill to walk into packed sessions and see SlideRocket being used to help speakers deliver a compelling message in an engaging presentation.

A true highlight of SXSW Interactive was the BizSpark Accelerator competition. All 30 participating startups used SlideRocket to present their ideas for the next big thing in technology to industry judges. It was fun to see such variety in the presentations – from  straightforward, informational slides to those taking advantage of SlideRocket’s unique features including animation, live Twitter feeds and live audience polling.

You can now view all the presentations, including those from winning companies – Siri (Innovative Web Technologies), ShopSavvy (Entertainment Technology), (Social Media Personal), and Mobile Roadie (Social Media Business) – in the SlideRocket Accelerator Presentation Gallery. Take a moment to check it out.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Tips for First-Time or Nervous Presenters

By Nat Robinson on March 17, 2010

When you’re giving a presentation, the last thing you want is to convey a sense of anxiousness or nervousness.  It’s no secret that speakers who don’t appear calm, cool, and collected don’t gain the complete confidence of their audience.  As a result, they lose much-needed credibility and authority with their attendees.

But, keeping it together isn’t always so easy – particularly for first-time presenters, or people who are just nervous by nature.  What are some of the best ways to keep your anxiety in check – or at the very least, to hide it from your audience?

1. Be Over-Prepared
The more comfortable you are with your content and planned delivery, the less nervous you’ll be.  Careful preparation of your slide deck, and lots of practice in front of the mirror means you’ll be far less likely to make mistakes.  And, that will go a long way towards easing your fears and boosting your confidence.

2. Just Breathe
Your voice is shaking, and your heart is pounding.  What now?  It may sound cliché, but take a nice, long, deep breath. The extra oxygen will help calm your nerves, while the brief pause will give you a moment to collect your thoughts and get back on track.

3. Hold Something
Shaking hands are one of the most common symptoms of nervousness, and send a clear signal to your audience that you aren’t comfortable taking command of the room.  By holding something – perhaps a laser pointer or a wireless mouse – you can minimize any obvious jittery movements.

4. Choose a Focal Point
It may help to pick an object in the back of the room, one that requires you to point your gaze in the same direction as if you were making eye contact with the audience.  By diverting your attention to that object, you can mentally block your attendees out, while giving the impression that you are looking right at them.

5. Keep a Glass of Water Nearby

Dry mouth is another common side effect of the presentation jitters.  But when your mouth and throat get dry, your voice cracks – something that will only exacerbate your nervousness.  Always have a glass of water readily available.  It will not only keep your thirst quenched, taking a few sips will buy you a few moments to compose yourself.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery? Review our archive of presentation tips and check back every week for new posts.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Ways to Talk Around Numbers, Diagrams, and Other Complex Concepts

By Nat Robinson on March 10, 2010

Many types of presentations contain content that is complex in nature.  For example, software sales pitches may include sophisticated architecture diagrams, while slides used in mechanical training sessions may depict engineering drawings or assembly instructions.  And, financial presentations will likely use number-intensive charts to demonstrate fiscal performance.

Keeping your language simple will help your audience absorb your material.

Keeping your language simple will help your audience absorb your material.

If these thoughts and ideas are not presented properly, however, they may be lost on audience members, creating confusion and bewilderment, and minimizing learning and retention.

Here are a few highly effective ways to ensure that your complex content is thoroughly understood by each and every member of your audience.

1. Simplicity is Key
You have extensive knowledge about the material you are presenting.  But, don’t assume your audience has any at all.  Act as though the concepts you are discussing are completely foreign to them, and provide as much background as possible.  This will help them absorb your material in the right context.  And, speak in the simplest terms possible, avoiding acronyms or industry jargon that only experts would understand.

2. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Since repetition is the key to retention, be sure to repeat the most important thoughts over and over again.  For example, point out what the key elements on a diagram represent, or the variances in numbers between fields on a financial chart, several times throughout the course of your session.  Then, go back to those diagrams and charts and the end of your presentation, and reiterate those important points one last time during your summary.

3. Cover One Thought at a Time
This is particularly important when you are speaking about diagrams or images that have multiple elements.  Break it down one piece at a time, describing each component in as much detail as possible, before you explain how they all work together as a whole.  The build capabilities within most presentation software packages are quite helpful in these scenarios, allowing you to visually highlight one specific area of a chart, to draw attention to it as you are speaking about it.

4. Use an Open Forum
Few presenters allow questions to be asked ad-hoc during their presentation, since it tends to interrupt them mid-thought and throw them off their game.  However, when the subject matter is highly complicated, it is critical that the audience fully understand what you are saying at all times.  If they need further explanation at any point, they need to feel comfortable stopping you immediately to get it.  Otherwise, subsequent ideas will be difficult to comprehend.

5.  Compare It to Something Familiar
Many people understand things more easily when they are similar to other things they know.  So, whenever possible, compare your concept to something they can relate to.  For example, the repair of mechanical device can be compared to fixing a car, or describing how a large piece of equipment operates can be compared to the way a simple household appliance works.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery?  Review our archive of presentation tips and check back every week for new posts.

SlideRocket Joins Google Apps Marketplace

By Chuck Dietrich on March 9, 2010

We are proud to announce that SlideRocket is a part of Google’s newly launched Google Apps Marketplace. Now over 2 M Google Apps customers can access SlideRocket right from Google’s universal navigation bar.

The integration between SlideRocket and Google Apps makes presentations more dynamic than ever.  Some great benefits include real-time updating of SlideRocket charts and graphs with data feeds from Google Spreadsheets, single sign-on, contact integration, and Google Presentation import. Combining the information and content in Google Apps with SlideRocket’s presentation design and management capabilities turns ordinary data into high-definition, visually captivating presentations that can be securely controlled and measured.

This is one more step in turning a common business tool into living, breathing and dynamic web content.

View a presentation with all of the information by clicking here. Or check out the press release here, for the full list of benefits.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 5 Presentation Pitfalls, and How to Avoid Them

By Nat Robinson on March 3, 2010

You spend countless weeks researching, compiling, and preparing your content.  You practice your delivery over and over again.  And still, you – and every other speaker – will undoubtedly make a few mistakes during your presentation.  Some of these will be minor, and won’t have much impact on the success of your session.  Yet others can be detrimental, hindering your ability to achieve your goal, and rendering all your hard work wasted.

Here are five of the most common presentation pitfalls today’s presenters face – and how you can effectively avoid them.

1. Don’t Rely Solely On Your Content
No matter how interesting or informative your subject matter is, the words on your slides, and those you speak, simply aren’t enough to keep the audience engaged.  Your delivery of those thoughts and ideas must be dynamic.  The format of your presentation must be exciting and interactive.  And, you must incorporate visual elements, anecdotes, real-world stories, and other techniques to make your topic, and all supporting points, as relevant and memorable as possible.

2. Don’t Confuse Your Audience
In many cases, your attendees are coming to you to learn something specific.  As you are putting together your slides and speaking notes, always keep in mind that they lack the knowledge and expertise that you have.  So, you may need to “dummy” it down a bit.  For example, avoid terminology or phrasing that they may not understand, be sure to explain what any acronyms or industry jargon mean, and provide in-depth detail (and when appropriate, background information) when covering key concepts.

3. Remember the “Aid” in “Visual Aid”
Your slide deck is not the focal point of your presentation.  It is there to enhance and compliment what you’re saying.  Using too many images, videos, graphics, and other visual elements, or packing too much copy onto each slide, will have the opposite effect on your audience.  Instead of helping them understand and absorb your material, it will actually distract them and minimize information retention.

4.  Proofread!
Absolutely nothing will destroy your credibility as quickly as slides or handouts that are chock full of typos.  Misspellings, duplications, formatting inconsistencies, and other errors always convey a sense of inexperience or unprofessionalism.  So be sure to read through your materials very carefully before your session.  It wouldn’t hurt to have a peer review them as well, since a fresh set of eyes may catch mistakes you missed.

5.  Stick to the Schedule
If your allotted time is 45 minutes, then keep it to 45 minutes (or, preferably, less).  Once your scheduled end time arrives, your audience will begin thinking about where they need to be next, how many emails are flooding their inbox, etc. – and anything you say from that point on will likely be ignored or forgotten.  And, since the close or summary is one of the most important portions of your presentation, you want to make sure you still have their undivided attention.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery?  Review our archive of presentation tips and check back every week for new posts.

Countdown to SXSW Interactive 2010

By Nat Robinson on February 26, 2010

The excitement leading up to SXSW is building, just 14 more sleeps!!!

An incubator of cutting-edge technologies, the SXSW Interactive Festival brings together the world’s most creative and innovative developers, inventors, entrepreneurs and thinkers. As the official online presentation partner of the event, we’ve been thrilled to work with those of you presenting at SXSW to maximize the impact, effectiveness and lifetime value of your presentation. As a SXSW attendee, you’ll see SlideRocket presentations being used in many Interactive sessions and throughout the Accelerator Program, taking place March 15-16 at the Hilton Downtown Austin.

We’re looking forward to meeting all of you and wanted to let you know when and where to find us:

#1 – WIN a 27″ iMAC by Stopping by our booth in Exhibit Hall #4 and entering your business card in the drawing. Our booth is conveniently (strategically?!) located across from the Trade Show bar in Exhibit Hall #4. We’d love an opportunity to meet you, give you a demo and answer any of your questions or help you out with your SXSW presentation.

Where: Austin Convention Center, Level 1, Exhibit Hall 4, across from the bar

Saturday, 3/13 12:00pm to 6:00pm
Sunday, 3/14 12:00pm to 6:00pm
Monday, 3/15 12:00pm to 4:00pm


All the presenters in the Accelerator Program will be using SlideRocket to present their ideas for the next big thing in the tech business. Come see SlideRocket in the wild and watch how this innovative bunch of presenters puts SlideRocket though it’s paces. We’ll be in attendance ready to apply our presentation know-how so just look for SlideRocket staff in the rocket T-Shirts if you have any questions. 32 companies will battle it out armed with their ideas (and SlideRocket presentations) on March 15th and 12 will be invited back on March 16th for the final showdown when the winners will be announced.

Where: March 15th and 16th at the Hilton Austin Downtown


Apparently there are a few parties at SXSW so we plan to do our due diligence and attend as many as possible, just in case you have questions.

If you’re going to be at SXSW this year and would like to set up a meeting with us in advance please send an email to

See you in Austin!

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 4 Hints for Opening Your Presentation With a Bang

By Nat Robinson on February 24, 2010

We’ve all heard the old saying – “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”.  This advice, while important in many situations, is particularly valuable during the opening of your presentation.  Those first few moments are crucial to laying the foundation for a successful session, setting the tone for how your audience perceives your content, and more importantly, how they perceive you.

Start your presentation with a bang!

Start your presentation with a bang!

What are some of the best ways to open your presentation with a bang?

1. The First 30 Seconds are Key
You have just a small window of opportunity to grab the attention of your attendees.  After all, the first few minutes of your presentation are just about the only time you’re guaranteed their full, undivided attention.  Start with a joke, an interesting quote, a thought-provoking question, a shocking story – some exciting and compelling, yet relevant way to spark their interest or peak their curiosity.  If you can get them hooked quickly, keeping them engaged throughout the course of your presentation will be far easier.

2. Get to the Point
Many speakers save their summaries for the end of the slide deck.  However, some experts believe that beginning with a few key points that let the audience members know what they can expect to learn or what value they’ll take away from the presentation will excite them and give them something to look forward to, encouraging them to pay attention so they don’t miss anything important.

3. Kick It Up A Notch
Your opening is the perfect time to be a bit dramatic.  Use stronger voice inflections and more pronounced hand movements.  Pause strategically after important thoughts or ideas.  Slightly exaggerate your facial expressions. This will lend a sense of importance or urgency to what you’ll be speaking about.  But be careful not to overdo it.  If you’re too animated, you may look silly and destroy your credibility.

4.  Pick a Style – And Stick to It
While starting strong is vital, consistency is the key to maintaining interest throughout your presentation.  Let your opening convey your delivery style, and be sure that style flows throughout the rest of the session.  For example, don’t open with a joke, and then follow with serious and somber content. Or, don’t begin by shocking your audience, only to continue with light-hearted banter.  The tactic you use to get their attention is the same one you should use to keep it.

Want more valuable tips on effective presentation creation and delivery?  Review our archive of presentation tips and check back every week for new posts.

SlideRocket Presentation Tip – 10 Ways To Stop Boring Your Listeners (How to use Vocal Variety)

By Nat Robinson on February 18, 2010

This post was contributed by Susan Dugdale of Write-Out-Loud. Thanks Susan!

Here’s the problem and its remedy is vocal variety.

You are giving a speech or presentation and,  although the content is excellent and  matches your audience’s expectation and needs, nobody is listening.

Vocal variety can cure your bored audience.

Vocal variety can cure your bored audience.

Instead you are looking at blank, disinterested faces. Someone is checking their watch, another is doodling, and that person in the front row is struggling to stay awake.

Your voice is turning ears off. To put it bluntly, it is boring.

The cure for deaf by monotone, (mono-speed, mono-pitch or any other one way or no way), is vocal variety. You need it if you want to be actively heard.

Vocal variety is achieved through varying your voice pitch, tone, volume and speaking rate.

It’s the combination of these elements that gives a voice its vocal signature. Lack of variety in any one of them can make you boring to listen to.

To understand pitch think of music. It has high and low notes as do people’s voices. Everyone’s voice has a natural pitch and a women’s voice is generally higher than a man’s. In addition, everyone has a pitch range, the number of notes they habitually use. When that range is very small the effect is monotonous to listen to.

Tone refers to the emotional content carried by our voices. It is not the words themselves but how we say them. To speak expressively is to fill or energise our words appropriately. For example, a person who puts very little energy into their speech no matter what they are talking about is often described as being ‘flat’. By contrast someone who fills their speech to overflowing with energy is described as ‘exuberant’, ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘passionate’. If you think of a word as a basket to carry its meaning, you’ll get the idea. Some people put very little in their word baskets. Others stuff them to overflowing.

Volume is how loudly or quietly you speak. If you are either habitually loud or quiet, you need to learn how to consciously turn down or up the volume.

Speaking rate refers to the rate words come out of your mouth: how fast or slow you speak.

Your goal as a speaker is to have people listen. To achieve that you need to use the most appropriate expression or vocal delivery, matching both your content and your audience’s needs.

Banish boring monotony with these 10 vocal variety tips.

1. Try this experiment for Pitch

Say the sentences below in your high, middle and low pitch range. Note what happens to the ‘intensity’ and the way you perceive their emotional content when you alter the pitch. There will be a distinct variation between each.

Her Grandmother died yesterday.

I want a new car.

This dinner is delicious.

People should love their neighbors as themselves.

2. The Tone Ham Sandwich Exercise:

Repeat the words ‘Ham Sandwich’ in as many varying ways as you can. For example say it angrily, happily, sadly, lovingly, despairingly, laughingly, importantly, slyly, snidely, shyly… This is a fantastic exercise to share with a partner. Take turn about giving each other the way to say the phrase. Repeat until you run out of variations. NB. Listen for emotional truth or believability!

3. Telephone Book Readings for Improving Tone:

Open the telephone book at any page. Select a style* or emotion and read aloud whatever is there. Sustain each feeling state for at least a minute. This gives you time to get into it. Listen to yourself to make sure you are filling those words with the appropriate emotion.

*Style? For fun and variation read your page in the style of a newsreader, a race commentator, a preacher, Marilyn Munroe…

4. Reading Children’s Stories:

Take a familiar story and read it aloud. As you do make sure your voice carries the meaning of the words. If a scary voice is asked for, use one. If somebody is bossy, sound bossy. If someone is teasing, put a teasing tone in your voice. If there’s a beat to the words, go with it. Find and emphasize it.

This a great exercise to record. When you listen to yourself, be alert for areas to improve. Record it again with the changes. And remember to try out your new improved reading skills with a child. Their feedback is direct and honest. You’ll soon know whether they enjoy the story or not!

5. Listen to Recordings of Novels,Short Stories, Autobiographies…

Many of these are read by highly skilled actors. Apart from enjoying the story, you will learn a great deal about expression. You can find audio tapes or CD’s at your local library or download them from the net. Many are free!

6. For Volume:

Use the following exercises to learn to project your voice naturally.

The skill involved with getting louder (or softer) is to maintain tone and pitch while altering the sound level. Many people lose them both, particularly when they get louder. Shouting may guarantee you get heard but it doesn’t usually mean heard with pleasure. And the other down-side to shouting is straining your voice. Good breath control is one of major keys to upping the volume while maintaining tone and pitch.

Practice Breathing Using your Diaphragm:

Stand in front of a mirror. Make sure your feet are a comfortable shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up straight and let your head sit square on your neck. Place one hand on your stomach. Breathe in. You should feel your stomach rising and then breathe out. This time your stomach falls. Watch your shoulders. If they rise and fall noticeably you are most likely breathing off the top of your lungs. Try until you can see and feel a definite rise and fall of your stomach while staying relaxed.

7. Distancing Technique for Volume Projection

Maintain the breathing technique outlined above and add voice. While watching yourself in the mirror to check for tension, (tightening of muscles), practice greeting yourself at ever increasing distances from the mirror. The first ‘Hello Susan, Bob’   (insert your name) is right up close. Then take two steps back and repeat. Now step back another two steps and greet yourself again.

(If your room is small, do the exercise outside and imagine the mirror! It remains in the same place all the time.)

If you feel any tension in your throat or chest from forcing the sound, stop. Breathe and begin again. It helps to imagine the sound arcing through the air, in a concentrated focused stream to reach its target. The further away you get the more control you need to have over the outflow of air carrying your words.

8, When you think you have a neutral ‘Hello Bob’ mastered, add emotional color. Say ‘Hello Bob’ nastily, lovingly, sweetly etc. while remaining relaxed.

9. Laugh Out-loud

Stand in front of your mirror breathing easily. On your out breath begin a series of ‘Ha-ha-ha-ha’s’ until all your breath is used. Take an ‘in’ breath and start again. Vary your laughter. Make it louder, make it quiet and then build it up again. Repeat until you are laughing loudly and easily without any strain.

10. Read Out-loud

Make sure your stance and breathing is good. Pin point a place at the far end of your room to talk to and now read aloud from a book, making sure you maintain your relaxed state while using as much vocal variety as you can.

A good way to test you’re working as you should is to do this exercise with a partner. Have them stand at the far end of the room you’re practicing in. Give instructions to give you feedback on clarity, variety and pitch.

If you find yourself rising in pitch, check your breathing. When we tense, we strain the throat and when that happens our vocal chords are restricted. The result is we force the pitch up and limit the range or color we can put into our words. If you  are straining will feel it in your upper chest and throat. In addition your shoulders will lift and you will run yourself out of breath easily.

To color and control your voice the way you want to, practice and then practice some more. Play. Experiment. Exaggerate, have fun and you will make them listen.

Have you got the power of the pause?  Silence in the right place speaks louder than any word can ever do.  How is your articulation and pronunciation? Is it clear? Can people understand you? Are you a motor-mouth? If so, can you put the brakes on? You’ll find more vocal delivery help tips and exercises at

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