The remote-first mode in the past few months has put communication and presentations in a different paradigm. Clients and investors may seem more accessible on the first sight, teams have adjusted to online communication, but at the same time, everyone is overloaded with information and is easily distracted. No matter if it’s sales, fundraising, or internal communications, the challenges are the same: How do you make people stay with you and be enthusiastic and engaged with what you care deeply for until the end of the call?
So, we invited Boris Hristov, the founder of the presentation agency 356labs, which is behind presentations that closed multi-million-dollar customer deals, secured startup investments from people like Bill Clinton, and helped Gradus raise 40M EUR in the second-biggest IPO in the history of Bulgaria. In a fireside chat on July 14 with our Irina Obushtarova, directly streamed from Launchee, he gave us some exclusive insights about the creation of outstanding virtual presentations – from planning through the storytelling and the journey, to the design of slides.
Be prepared for things to go south
“Every single time we approach a training session with one of our clients, we try to push them to think about the ‘what-ifs’. What if something fails – how are you going to react? In the online world, the very basic things that can fail are hardware and software. Your microphone can just die – what are you planning to do then – reach out and use your mobile phone or prepare a second laptop in advance,” said Hristov highlighting the importance of preplanning.
He also shared how when the team was doing the presentation for Gradus’ IPO, one of the most important things they were doing back then was to consider what would happen if they received questions about a slide with a drop in the numbers. So, the ‘why’ answer was repeated multiple times before it sounded perfectly well and credible.
Keeping the audience engaged
One of Hristov’s main points was about multimodality or how engaging presentations have contrasts, variety, and intentionally changed dynamics. “In presentations, there are several kinds of change. For example, when you’re constantly transitioning from content that’s factual-driven – plain facts, charts, and data, to an emotionally provoking story. Or varying problem-solution or past-future. However, the ones that are very interesting for the online world are the delivery contrasts – switching from slides to video to slides again to asking the audience a question to bringing someone else on ‘stage’. When something changes in your visual surroundings you’re wired to look at it,” explained Hristov
Differences in the design of virtual and in-person presentations
“In the online world, you want to have as many slides as possible – if something changes constantly – the audience has a reason to look at the presentation constantly as people don’t want to miss anything important,” added on a similar note Hristov.
On an even more detail-oriented level, he added that transitions and animations in virtual presentations are very slow and annoying, so they should be avoided or limited to very basic things like ‘appear’ or ‘fade’.
On follow-up presentations after the live one
“For both in-person and virtual events if the slides are done well, you shouldn’t be able to understand them without me as the speaker. They are so simple that without the speaker, they are almost useless. So, you usually need a separate file, designed to be self-sufficient,” shared Hristov. To minimize the effort needed for the creation of separate documents, the 356Labs team has actually created a guide and template for effective use of PowerPoint’s Notes pages section, which can be found here.