What Makes a Powerful Presentation?

what makes a powerful presentation

A powerful presentation is about so much more than the message it is delivering. Of course the message is vitally important but unless you are able to deliver an engaging presentation the message could be lost. A powerful presentation needs credibility, a clear goal, supporting material, clear messages, thought provoking questions and time for feedback and questions. 

Tips for an providing and engaging presentation:

What’s your credibility? 

A teacher conducting a presentation on heart surgery is unlikely to have the credibility of a surgeon. Likewise a surgeon conducting a presentation on primary school reading targets will not have the credibility of a teacher. That’s not to say they can’t do it successfully, we just need to know how and why they are a credible source for this message. Your audience are much more likely to listen to what you have to say if they know you are credible. 

This doesn’t require a lengthy discussion on your life story but a brief overview of your background and why you are interested and engaged with this topic. Explain the legwork that brought you to the point you are at now and perhaps share an experience that shaped the presentation. For example, the heart surgeon may have young children, is a Governor at their school and has conducted research into reading targets. Take time to explain your backstory so your audience understands why you are there. 

Set out your stall early

A long rambling message with no clear goal will quickly lose your audience. Make sure they know the purpose of your presentation from the start. Focus is everything. As far as possible keep your presentation clearly focused on your goal whether that is to secure funding, approval, change minds or get an agreement. By being clear about the goal the presentation is less likely to stray off topic and the audience will be in no doubt why they are there. 

Draw on supporting material

Once you’ve established your credibility its important to keep reinforcing it with supporting material. So the surgeon presenting reading targets may keep referring back to research already conducted, statistics or quotes from well respected figures. This reinforces the credibility of the presentation. You can also directly address your credibility by saying you understand that they may be surprised or be sceptical, but you have done your research and you know what you are talking about.

Have a clear message

As you move through your presentation it’s important to keep everyone’s attention. Consider using strong images and powerful quotations. Provide a powerful visual for the message. Some people respond much better to imagery than words. By providing both you are covering all bases. This will also help to keep the message stuck in people’s minds and it breaks up the presentation, preventing it from becoming stale.

Throw out some thought provoking questions

Try and put yourself in the position of your audience. Consider some of the things they might be thinking about and questioning. Address these as part of your presentation. For example, “You may be thinking..” or, “When I started this I also thought it was impossible…” This addresses some concerns people may have in a subtle and inclusive way. It positions you on the same side as the audience; you appreciate they will have questions and are ready to answer them. 

Provide time for questions

This means also being prepared for difficult questions. By preparing for this in advance you should be able to handle anything that comes your way. Consider all the ways the audience may object or be critical of your goal. Try and address these within your presentation and failing that, be ready to address them if questioned.

Similarly, be prepared if no one asks any questions. You may need to ease your audience into this by providing some of your own questions. For example, “you may still be wondering..”

So now you know what Makes a Powerful Presentation?


Engage in Learning provide online courses to help you make perfect presentations. Our Making Presentations Powerful course will help you structure your ideas clearly, be aware of your audience and their needs, and use visuals that impact to enhance your presentations.

You can find our Making Presentations Powerful course here