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As a marketer, you know all too well the pain of building a presentation. Sure, you develop your own presentations, but you're likely also the default creator of presentations for conferences, webinars, employee meetings, board meetings... Even sales decks.

It can be easy to slip into the routine of cutting and pasting relevant content into a PowerPoint, adding some stock images, and calling it good. But doing that will kill your presentations. Instead, with a few simple design tips, you can create more convincing and engaging presentations and to avoid the dreaded "Death by PowerPoint."

1. Hook them in the first slide

Think of your presentation as a story. If readers are not hooked from the first page of the book, chances are they won't keep reading. It's the same with your presentation's first slide. If you manage to get your audience's attention right from the start, you have a much better chance of retaining it for the rest of the presentation.

In the words of former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, your presentation should start with the "shock and awe." Don't begin with the background story. Go right into the coolest stuff that your product or service can do or make a provocative statement.

Another winning strategy is to pull them in with a question. Asking something such as "How many of you have ever done X?" or "What would you do when Y happens?" immediately engages your audience.

It's even better if the question comes with an element of surprise. For example, ask a question and give three possible answers, then surprise them by saying none is the correct answer. Your audience will be already engaged (they've been thinking about the answer) and intrigued to learn more.

2. Follow the billboard rule

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image of Mitch Grasso

Mitch Grasso is a designer, developer, and CEO and founder of Beautiful.ai, software that designs your presentation for you in real-time.

LinkedIn: Mitch Grasso