How your presentation makes people feel

 In Presentation tips

How your presentation makes people feel

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

It’s as true for your personal life as it is for your professional one; the impact you leave on the people you engage with will be the fundamental emotional memories that they depart with.

In all sectors of business, we see many different presentations throughout our careers. These range from tolerable, passable, good and even terrible depending on the situational elements of the topic, audience and presentation quality itself.

But then there are those presentations that leave you thinking about their impact for days or weeks to come. If it’s truly inspiring, it will be one you consistently refer back to throughout your professional growth.

We can relate this back to our personal relationships quite easily. When we think of our long term friends or even family members; the first thing that jumps to mind isn’t all the ups and downs we’ve been through together, it’s how they make us feel. Perhaps your mother makes you feel loved and accepted, or your best friend makes you feel confident; whoever the person and whatever your situation, your response will always be fundamentally emotional when relating to others.

This projects into your business life as well. We all know that a good boss is one who values your work and makes you feel appreciated. This is no different in a presentation or speech format. Your audience will be looking at the finer points of your ideas and pitches; and will leave with an opinion of not only your work itself, but of you.

This is why it’s so important to have your best foot forward in all business dealings. There’s a reason the old adage “First impressions count” is still alive and kicking today. The next level up from this is “Lasting impressions count”.

There are a couple of ways we can do this, and first we’ll look at the importance of face-to-face engagement. In this case, an example we can all relate to: customer service.

In retail, we understand that customer service is the forefront of every successful business. Whilst the Internet has boomed with reviews and feedback to leave anonymously, word of mouth will always be the most effective (and free) marketing tool you have.

Pull up any local business survey and the average consumer will tell you the same: “I will pay a little more at this place because they treat me so well”.

Delving a little deeper into this, by treating your customers well, as in providing great customer service and an atmosphere that is welcoming, this has created conversion and ongoing retention.

Let’s compare this to your morning coffee routine.

You could go to the local convenience store and get a $1 coffee and be on your way. You put a $1 coin on the counter and nod at the assistant who doesn’t acknowledge you. It’s no frills but it gets the job done.

Alternatively, you could go to the little café on the corner. Your coffee is $4.50 but the barista smiles as soon as you walk in, knows your name and order, and compliments your jacket. You leave with a little spring in your step from this interaction – it’s not just the caffeine picking you up, it’s also the positive engagement.

This works in the reverse as well of course. How many of us have had a bad customer service experience and immediately went and discussed either online or to our peers just how bad it was.

For every bad experience someone has, on average they will tell 9 friends about it. For every positive experience, they will tell only 3. This statistic really drives home the point of leaving your audience with a positive light on you.

We’ve established that how the barista has made us feel is why we keep going back. We can now look at what are they doing to make us feel like this and how can we use the same techniques for our presentations.

It’s quite easy to gather this information once you know what you’re looking for:

Eye Contact

Eye contact is one of the most crucial body language techniques you should master in order to establish how you make someone feel in your presentation. It is also one of the hardest. Eye contact is a very vulnerable act for both parties yet it is one that can make them feel appreciated. When you look directly into someone’s eyes, it shows you are paying attention to them and taking in what they say.

Practise it next time you’re getting a coffee and return that eye contact. You may find some surprising rewards!

Remembering Names & Small Details

In this modern day and age, we are exposed to so much external imagery and sensations that it’s refreshing to come across someone who takes the time to get to know you and remember small details about it, no matter how brief your encounter may be.

This shows you truly care and have respect for the people you’re dealing with, and that is worth its weight in gold for business interactions.

If remembering names and small details about others is a skill you’re still mastering, a handy hint is to combine the two. Repeat someone’s name after you meet them and look for something that identifies them.

For example, you have just met Steve. Once he’s introduced himself, repeat his name with a “Great to meet you, Steve”; whilst taking a quick scan of him. Steve is wearing a bright blue tie, so now you can jog your memory with “Steve – Blue Tie”. Throwing in a compliment here about his tie further helps you remember this detail about him, which takes us into the next tip.


Who doesn’t love a good genuine compliment, and the benefits of giving them often are mutual. Not only will you make the person feel good, but making others feel good helps improve your self esteem, in turn leading you to feel better about yourself.

It’s important to stress that the compliments should always be genuine through – people can smell a fake or phony a mile off. A good way to ensure you are always giving genuine compliments is to take a moment to observe the person.

The best compliments are not always physical as well, and if you’re worried about coming across as flirtatious or your compliment being taken the wrong way, they are best avoided.

General compliments like “I love hearing you laugh!”, “You always ask the best questions”, “You are the funniest person I’ve ever met” are great ones because they reach the core of the person you’re complimenting.

If you’re still wanting to go down the physical appearance compliment route – tread carefully and stick to things like “What a stunning jacket, you have great style!”, “Your smile lights up the entire room” or even “I love what you’ve done with your hair.”

Never comment on someone’s weight or how good they look for their age; it seems like common sense but it’s something that comes up a lot. Before you know it, you may have accidentally insulted them without thinking.


Feeling confident in your presentation is the most important part of this entire exercise; particularly when we’ve already established what you’re being judged on. You may be the greatest speaker in the world but if your physical presentation slides are reminiscent of MS Paint or have any element of Comic Sans font, it’s going to be difficult for the audience to take you seriously.

Imagine instead a beautifully crisp design that is pleasing to the eye, with attractive colours (a large part in guiding your audience to feel positive as well), clean layouts and clear content. With the stress of the digital side taken away, you have the room to work on creating an atmosphere through your words and body language.

Slidesho can help you create a memorable and engaging presentation that will leave your guests with positive reviews of your work and your presence. Get in touch today to find out how we can assist you further.


Written by Paige Hart on behalf of Slidesho

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