How to Make Your Presentations More Memorable

There are many experts that can coach salespeople on the mechanics of how to speak better at presentations.  This is concerned with making your content more memorable to the audience.

According to presentation coach Jack Malcom “Researchers once ran a test to measure how much of a presenter’s message sticks in the minds of their audience. They found that immediately after a 10-minute presentation, listeners only remembered 50% of what was said. By the next day that had dropped to 25%, and a week later it was 10%.” (Source:


  1. Keep it “short and sweet” vs “long and boring.” People lose interest after 20 minutes

This is especially true if you use PowerPoints.  Long, wordy slides and a large slide deck become monotonous and lose the attention of the viewer and thus, also are not remembered.  Never have more than 3 takeaways or reasons to buy on 1 slide to keep it easy to read memorable.  Do not read PPT slides to them word-for-word. “Death by PowerPoint.”


Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 1863.

Edward Everett, famous orator, and Dean of Harvard, spoke for 2 hours and then was succeeded by A. Lincoln who spoke for 2 minutes.  Everyone remembers Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, one of the most powerful in English language.  Nobody remembers Everett/s.

  1. Know your audience.  Avoid any non-well-known acronyms
  2. Have a “hook”


  • “We will guarantee a successful implementation for you by June 1 – or no cost to you”
  • “What would happen if you were suddenly confronted with an OSHA (or FinCEN) fine?”
  • “XYZ Company, similar to yours, saved 65% in expenses by deploying this solution”
  • “ABC Imports improved their renewal rate by 15% by offering a two -year plan.”
  1. Hearing is not listening.   Your audience may be hearing you, but they may not be listening.  There is a difference.  You make them listen by being interesting, not boring.
  2. Tell stories – not facts.  Plato “Those who tell stories rule society”


  1. If somebody gave you all the facts about the temperatures in Chicago in January for the past ten years or they told you a story about how they were stuck in the home for five days due to a record blizzard, which would you likely remember? The blizzard story. So, to be more effective, you can make the presentation more memorable by telling the audience a brief story that illustrates your point, idea, or solution.  The more personal the story the better. Speak about a topic that you are very familiar with, ideally a subject matter expert.  The audience wants to learn from you.  They are not there for you to learn from them (although that is an objective of yours.)
  1. Be visual.  Most people are more visual and remember pictures better than words.  If you are using a PowerPoint, brochures or marketing material be sure to find and use impactful photographs or pictures in your slide deck.  Ordinary is sub-optimal.


I remember a poster that I saw many years ago that showed a herd of wild horses running through a prairie.  The caption said “Unless you are the lead horse the view is the same.”  It left an impact on me that remains in my mind.

  1. Make the audience think.  Increase the curiosity of the audience by being less predictable.  Do not do a scripted presentation.  Your audience will appreciate it more.


A good example is the song “American Pie” by Don McLean.  He used metaphors, imagery and disguised names of famous people to make the audience try to decipher the words of the song into his story of famous rock and roll people.  This was very effective, and with the captivating tune, resulted in people remembering much of the song.  Do not spoon-feed everything to them.

  1. Repetition of a theme is effective and is more memorable.


I competed with a smaller boutique software company (Data Design) that had basic features and functions and a primitive user interface that did not compare with our functionally rich offering.  Throughout their sales presentation they kept repeating “Our system is simple and very easy to use.”  When I later asked the prospect what they thought of this vendor’s offering they always repeated “We think it is simple and very easy to use.”

  1. Emotions – make the audience laugh or cry. Craft your presentations away from presenting facts and towards feelings.  In the sales context feelings are what you experience when you receive external stimuli, or due to emotions such as sadness, happiness, joy or fear when you listen to a speaker or watch a presentation.  For example, you might have feelings of excitement, surprise, anger, happiness, disgust, hurt or surprise. Or, conversely, you might feel angry, disturbed, disappointed, stressed, bored, disrespected, or skeptical. Those that give us feelings of happiness or delight might be due to seeing content, ideas, or solutions that you judge to be creative, aesthetically pleasing, favorable to your career, solves a critical problem, raises your levels of interest, provides us with greater personal respect or inspires us.  Poet and author Maya Angelou wrote:  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, the things you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, once said “We don’t stand a chance of advertising with features and benefits and with RAMs and with charts and comparisons. The only chance you have of communicating is with a feeling.”
  2. Steve’s Presentation Word Meter – is a fictitious invention that counts spoken words. Its purpose is to count the words spoken by each person during a meeting. If at the conclusion of the meeting the word meter indicated that the buyer’s attendees spoke more than 50 percent of all words during the meeting, it was likely successful. If the buyers spoke less than 20 percent, then it was probably sub-optimal. If it was under 10 percent, then it was probably a disaster. The attendees were just letting you speak, and they were not participating in the meeting. They were being polite, but their minds were elsewhere. Getting the attendees to participate in the meeting has greater importance in a web meeting than an in-person meeting.

How do you increase the number of words spoken by the prospect during the meeting? In addition to building a stimulating agenda that addresses the topics they are most interested in discussing, and trying to solution with them, the sales pro needs to encourage the buyer to participate more in the meeting by stopping the presentation and by asking thought-provoking, open-ended questions. These could be about their current state, their desired solution, learning more about the company, and whether the proposed solution makes sense to them. If they still do not speak, keep asking them questions, but do not act like an interrogator. The attention needs to be on them, not on your sales pitch if you want to get them to talk.

  1. Educate the buyer about the typical buying process.  It is on us, as salespeople, to ease any anxieties that unfamiliar buyers may have over the evaluation process by assisting them in understanding the typical steps in the buying cycle.  Perhaps that is best done one-on-one, but it can be addressed in a presentation or follow-up meeting if it becomes apparent to you that the buyers seem uncomfortable with the process.  That could also provide an opportunity for you to deliver to the buyers a list of typical requirements that might provide a jump start for them.
  2. Strong close- Review your primary message at the close and include a “call to action.” Never end a meeting without a close “Based on what I have presented today is our product/solution a viable alternative to solve your problem?”


Do not agree to a situation where multiple suppliers will be presenting to a prospect on the same day.  They will never remember what each said.  But they will remember who was on time, looked more professional and had a higher quality presentation.  So that coould be criteria for their decision.