Creative Presentation Ideas: 6 Outside-The-Box Preparation Tips

I live and die by being prepared to deliver effective presentations. A few years ago I found an organization that routinely gives me fresh ideas on how to more strongly connect with my audiences... and I've been speaking professionally for over 20 years! Ovation Communication is a communication skills consulting firm that enables clients to deliver their message more effectively. Their  consultants combine their experience as professional actors with their knowledge of the business world to create complete communicators. You can learn more about Ovation at their website. Today's guest post is by one of their fabulous team members, Bridget Bierne.

You've embraced the idea of presentation prep — excellent. You've stopped believing that you can "wing it" when it comes to presenting and hope that you can just somehow win them over. Good for you.

But sometimes you've got to shake up that prep. Just reading the words, endlessly flipping through slides, or pacing the same floor in some kind of attempt to memorize your content ain't gonna do it. (Remember- "familiarize" is very different from "memorize"...)

So, beyond our basic three step rehearsal process (which is key to great presentations) here are some tips you can use to break through to new presentation ideas and creative prep.

1. Backwards and Forwards: There is a book by David Ball that is read by many in the theatre called "Backwards and Forwards." It's an approach to play interpretation that encourages the reader to read a piece in both directions described by the title. Actors know that, sometimes, reading or thinking through a script backwards can help them discover where there character's journey leads by thinking first about where they end up.

Use it in your prep: While you are developing your content, take some time and talk through your ideas, starting at the END of your presentation, and finishing when you've gone through your first main point. When your conclusions are first in your mind, it can give you a fresh look at whether you are supporting them throughout your presentation.

2. Over-do the Diction: Ah, the dreaded "What did he say?" audience reaction. Sloppy speech happens to all of us — even professional actors. Build muscle memory and clearer articulation by practicing overdone diction.

Use it in your prep: Have a diction-focused read through of your content. Really hit every consonant, elongate your vowels. Pay special attention to sharp, kicky consonants that help you separate and clarify words: t's, k's, c's, d's, b's, p's. You'll discover where some of the speech pitfalls lie in your content. When you get used to going too far, you can tone it down slightly (not too much!) for your presentation and still be in a good place.

3. Take Away Tip: Coco Chanel famously encouraged women to remove one accessory before leaving the house to avoid being over-accessorized. When developing your content, you may feel the need to include Every. Single. Thing. About. Your. Subject. This can cause audience overload.

Use it in your prep: Go on, remove a few extraneous points. We know they're there. This will help you work towards more concise presenting. (Hey, we do it, too -  this list used to be 10 tips...)

4. Make it sing: To find more creative line delivery, actors are often encouraged to intone dialogue like a song. It helps unlock pitch ranges that they might not have thought of using while simply speaking dialogue.

Use it in your prep: Yep, you got it. If you find you're caught in a trap of pitch monotony, let it go. (Sorry, we had to...) "Sing" through your content. Sure, it might feel silly, but it will help you wake up your voice which, in turn, will engage your audience.

5. Change your perspective: Actors don't usually rehearse a show in the theatre where they will perform it. Most of the time, rehearsals are in a separate studio, and the production moves into the theatre closer to the show. Everyone's perspective changes when the actors move to the theatre — it's a breath of fresh air to be somewhere new.

Use it in your prep: We are big supporters of rehearsing your presentation in the space where you will give it, if possible. But you can shake up your perspective even before that! If you typically rehearse in your living room, try your kitchen. Or move from your office to an empty conference room. Enjoy the new view.

6. Save the slides for last: When people think of "creative presentation ideas" they often think of a revolutionary slide deck. We love great visuals as much as the next person (heck, maybe even more) but focusing on slides first can leave you with slick visuals backing you up, but a lackluster presentation where it counts- in the "you" department.

Use it in your prep: Brainstorm and develop your content FIRST. Work it through, find the flow of your message. Then get creative when it comes to supporting those ideas with visuals. 

Want to give your best presentation yet? Check out our free eBook, “Hit Your Mark: The Big Four Acting Secrets for Wicked Presentations!”

Bridget Beirne comes from a background in both the professional theatre and business. She works in marketing and social media for Ovation, as well as acting as the chief editor of the OC Blog. She resides in beautiful Astoria, Queens, although she grew up in the great state of New Jersey. She is neither a Real Housewife, a Soprano, nor a Snookie.