If you were to compare the user base, common assumptions, and intended use of PowerPoint and TikTok, you'd be hard-pressed to find two software platforms with less overlap.
PowerPoint is the tool of the old guard. TikTok is the inflection point for a new generation of content. It's dynamic, interactive, and authentic.
But there are four things that anyone who has to stand in front of a room and address an audience can learn from TikTok, and none of those things involve your inner Lady Gaga.
1. Great content starts conversations
Dance trends. Reaction clips. Stitching and duets. The best content on TikTok doesn't end when the video loops. It enters into a larger conversation, where it's shared, edited, remixed, and repurposed.
The common thread is that the original creators are offering something that is relevant and engaging to their specific audience. It's about not only what they want to say or do but also how they can be creative in conversation, with a broader cultural context.
2. Authenticity matters more than polish
If you want your audience to pay attention and remember your message, you need to put your personality into your work. Often, presenters focus so much on making each slide pixel-perfect that they forget they are the focus for the audience.
In practice, that means many presenters think the audience doesn't want to see their personality—that it wants to see only the nuts-and-bolts content on the slides.
TikTok has taught us that isn't true.
What audiences respond to more than polish and practice is personality: your passion, your enthusiasm, your charisma.
Be your authentic self and speak from the heart, rather than striving to become a perfectly polished version of what you think your audience wants to see.
3. Fun is cool again
Having fun with your presentation doesn't mean you aren't a serious person. It means you are a person.
People often think "business is business; entertainment is entertainment." But there's no reason the two have to be separate. And what is considered "entertainment" all depends on your audience. What's appropriate for a startup might not go over as well in the boardroom of an investment bank.
If you are passionate about your content and you can be entertaining, you can make any topic compelling. And if your content is funny and relevant, that humor can actually help the audience remember the information you present.
4. Intriguing headlines work
Whether via a pithy headline or captions running alongside your voiceover, TikToks incorporate text in multiple ways to create short, strong messages.
The takeaway from all of them is to simply stop writing boring headlines. Your presentation isn't a chance to compete for "world's most buttoned-up businessperson." It's a way for you to create a feeling for your audience. So stop writing plain, dull, forgettable headlines, and write something people can relate to.
In presentation storytelling, we talk about a story's showing change over time. In other words, how things will change as a result of choosing your brand. That approach is a powerful way to write your headlines, and some typical TikTok headlines show exactly what we mean:
- "When X finds out..."
- "Me when X happens..."
- "X reacts to..."
In each of those, a story is set up in just a few words. The person feels one way, he or she completes an activity, and things change. But most important, the viewer is primed to await the conclusion from the beginning.
A catchy, story-driven headline boosts narrative tension from the moment your slide starts, and it keeps your audience engaged until the end.
Let learning loop
TikTok has taught us that there are many ways to tell a story. One of the most popular TikTok stars is known for telling powerful stories without even saying a word.
But the No. 1 thing TikTok can teach us about presentations is that the best way to be a great presenter is to never stop learning.
Find inspiration in unusual places. Put yourself into your work. Don't be afraid to challenge conventional thinking.
Every presentation tells a story. How will you tell yours?
More Resources on Great Presentations
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