How To Use PowerPoint To Create Intrigue In Your Next Presentation

Intrigue is what will capture your audience's attention
Intrigue is what will capture your audience’s attention
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One of the challenges of any presentation is that we want to be able to both capture and hold our audience’s attention while we are speaking. If your speech is 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or even longer this can be a real challenge. The good news is that your PowerPoint (or Keynote) slides can help you if you know how to add a bit of intrigue to your presentation…

The Problem – Solution Structure

Just about every speech that we give is delivered for a reason. No matter if you are trying to convey some information, convince your audience to see things your way, or sell an idea, the ability to structure your speech as a “pitch” is a critical speaker skill and is part of the importance of public speaking.

I know that many of us don’t consider ourselves to be a “sales person”; however, you will still often find yourself in a situation where you want to win your audience over to your way of thinking. The big question is how to go about doing this.

One way to go about doing this is to use the problem-solution structure. This is a way of crafting your speech in order to lead your audience to the conclusion that you want them to reach. Here is the process for structuring a speech in this fashion:

  • Did you know? (a fact or statistic. A problem that costs time or money)
  • Did you know? (2nd fact or problem)
  • Did you know? (3rd fact or problem)
  • What if? Imagine. (here you present the ideal solution)
  • You don’t have to imagine it; we’ve created it!

How To Use PowerPoint To Create Intrigue

Once you’ve got the problem-solution structure down, your next task is to find a way to “hook” your audience from the start. Your PowerPoint slides can help you to do this.

One of the biggest problems that we all have is that all too often when we are creating the slides that we are going to use in our presentation, we start at the end. We think about what the message that we want to communicate to our audience is and then we create a slide that shows exactly what we are trying to say. It turns out that this is the wrong thing to do.

Instead, we need to create PowerPoint slides that will create some intrigue for our audience. What this means for you is that you are not going to want to put all of your information onto a single slide – leave some or most of what you want to communicate off of your slide.

The experts have a name for this technique. They call it “visual cognitive dissonance”. What it means is that your audience will see the slide that you are showing them, but they will want to know more. What is the Y-axis showing them? What do the boxes mean? Since the slide isn’t answering their question, their attention turns to you in order to get the answers that they are seeking.

Another term for what is going on here is “anticipation”. You can use a series of PowerPoint slides that gradually reveal more and more information to your audience. As each slide is revealed, your audience will want to know more. You’ll have their attention from your first word to your last!

What All Of This Means For You

Every presenter wants to capture and hold his or her audience’s attention for the length of their entire speech. Needless to say in today’s iPhone, iPad, and short attention span world this can be very hard to do. That’s why we need to add some intrigue to our next speech.

It turns out that one of the benefits of public speaking is that you can build a presentation that grabs your audience’s attention from the start. What you need to do is to use the problem – solution structure to grab their interest. Then use your PowerPoint slides to present some, but not all of your information. Your audience will be eager to listen to you in order to find the answers to their questions.

The human mind is a wonderful thing. It’s always striving to get answers to questions. If as a presenter you offer your audience a series of unanswered questions, then you’ll be able to keep their attention as long as they believe that you’ll eventually be answering the questions that you’ve asked. Add some intrigue to your next presentation and watch what happens…!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How much intrigue do you think that you can add to a 30 minute speech?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As public speakers we would like to be able to tap into the power of music. What we’d like to be able to do is to discover how music can be so effective and then use that ability in our next speech to connect with each member of our audience. The good news is that this can be done, you just have to understand how music works…