Nine Essentials To Keep Your Presentation From Becoming A Corpse

Image by by a.drian.

Presentations are the economy of most conferences and business today.

Yet most presentations are boring. A majority of them are just uninteresting. They lack humanness, life, passion and emotional connections.

Today, many conference participants feel trapped by a parade of monotonous, dreary, insipid presentations. It doesn’t take long to recognize a corpse. It takes even less time to recognize a conference that is a morgue of corpse presentations.

Presentation Failures In Three Critical Areas

A large number of speakers fail at these three critical presentation areas:

  1. The development of the content
  2. The creation of the visuals
  3. The delivery or communication of its message

A well-crafted presentation takes discipline, planning, rehearsal and time. Today’s business world demands good presentation skills. Conference attendees demand presentations that connect with them on an emotional level. They want education that helps them solve their problems.

Nine Essentials To Keep Your Presentations From Becoming A Corpse

1. A Strong Title

Your presentation needs a strong title that causes an emotional connection with the reader. Instead of “Fundamentals Of Customer Service,” consider “How To Turn Your Customers Into Raving Fans In Five Easy Steps.”

2. A Good Intro

Welcome people for coming to your presentation. Thank them for attending. Acknowledge that they have a choice and you appreciate their choice to spend their time with you.

3. The Ground Rules

This is imperative to set a positive climate. This is your quick “how to make your time in this presentation successful.” Make a presenter-attendee agreement. Include things like turn smartphones to vibrate, take care of your needs, be present, use respect, etc.

4. The Hook

Before you get into the meat of your presentation, you need to tell your audience why your content is important to them.  Explain how your presentation is relevant to their lives and solves their problems.

5. The Presentation Goals

Better known as the learning objectives or outcomes, these describe what the learner will be able to do once they finish the presentation. Use the ABC method for writing these outcomes: audience, behavior and condition.

6. The Meat

This is the content of the presentation. Identify three to five main points to cover and build the presentation around those points. Ensure that your meat has emotional connections. Don’t strip your content of humanness.  Include personal stories about these points that will resonate with your audience.

7. The Engagement

Facts and content are not enough for the leaner. Your participants need time to process the information you are sharing. Build time during your presentation where the attendees can discuss with each other (not discuss with you). Include audience activities and engagement to increase retention. Each main point should have some type of audience interaction.

8. Summary

You want to ensure meaning and value. Recap the main points again for your audience. Engage them with activity to elicit a feeling of completion. (Example: Have them retrace the presentation with a partner.) Thank them again for their time and presence.

9. Evaluation

Build time at the end of your presentation for your participants to complete an evaluation. Stress the importance of this document.

What other essentials would you add to this list to keep presentations from becoming corpses? What do you think makes a good presentation?


  1. Ken Sien says

    How about the importance of good handouts of your presentation? I know this may be considered as part of the visuals. Are there recommended guidelines for those handouts?

    • Jeff Hurt says

      I’m all about good handouts for presentations! I think some participants want handouts to take notes. Do I have some guidelines for good handouts? Yes. One important point is not just to provide a copy of the slides of the presentation. I like to create interactive handouts…I feel another blog post coming. Stay tuned. And thanks for reading and commenting too.

  2. says

    Great post, Jeff. I would also add a surprise beginning. Everyone says, “Welcome”, “Thanks for coming” yadayada. Change it up. Start with a question, an interesting statistic – something unexpected that is a direct engagement.
    Also – in addition to the engagement with one another, sometimes it’s great to have a volunteer come up to the front of the room to illustrate an example you’re sharing.

    • Jeff Hurt says

      I really like your thoughts about adding a surprise beginning, something unexpected. Thanks for reading and adding your insight. We greatly appreciate it.

  3. says


    This is an outstanding well thought out post. … And so true!

    To your steps in the process I would mention, as I learned from you the “law of two feet” under the ground rules. I love that one.

    For those that don’t know the “law of two feet” says in Wikipedia “If at any time you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing: use your two feet and go someplace else.”

    Great stuff and thanks for posting, I will refer folks to this article for sure.


    • Jeff Hurt says

      Yes, I love the “law of two feet” (also called the law of motion). During webinars, I call it the law of the click! Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

  4. says

    Great post, Jeff! Just for the record, Harrison Owen, the originator of the large group method “Open Space” is the person who coined the phrase “The Law of Two Feet.”


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