Sticky Presentations bite size article: Presenting to Millennials

Presenting to Millennials, how to design slides that will interest them

Oct 26, 2018

Millennials, aka Generation Y, is the generation that is tech-savvy, money-shrewd, and socially conscious. They are also impatient and having a short attention span, thus seem immune to traditional marketing and conventional styles of engagement.

Millennials currently represent the largest generation in history and surely form a part of our organisations. Chances are, Millennials are also heavily represented among our current customers and prospects, and they may soon comprise the majority of our clients.

There are many studies that look at the characteristics of Millennials and how they respond to various styles of communication that influence their buying behaviour and encourage them to want to take action.

One clear indication is that they are responsive to social media, and especially brands that engage them through social media. Studies also show that they respond much better when communication includes visuals and imagery that resonate with their unique sensibilities.

When considering a product for purchase, more than 60 percent of Millennials prefer something visually engaging, like watching a video about it over reading texts. That's one of the many findings of Animoto Inc.'s Online and Social Video Marketing Study.

Taking these into the context of everyday visual communication, organisations should change their approach to presentation slides used for meeting sessions where decision makers are likely Millennials, if they want to appeal to these individuals.

Here are a few pointers organisations can consider when designing slides that will interest Millennials.

  1. Keep slides simple. Keeping the slide simple is key to ensuring communication is direct and straight forward. Be selective of what to display on the slide and only show relevant information. If possible, show only one key message for each slide. When communicating numbers information, do not paste a table or spreadsheet from Excel into PowerPoint slide. Extract only the relevant numbers to display on slides. You might end up having many slides, but that’s alright as informative on each slide is clear and easy to understand.

    Example of a simple 1 message slide A simple one message slide that is focused and easy to comprehend.
    Select text messages displayed in a visual format Select text messages displayed in a visual format is better as compared to using bullet-points.
  2. Design your slides for seeing (not for reading). Millennials like to see visuals with large headlines. Make contents on your slides, large and visible. Maximise the space on your slide with the simple information that you have developed in point #1 above. Use a non-conventional layout to display your information so that it is something that people see and not read. Keep in mind that information for reading is more suited for documents. Information that you display on slides is for seeing.

    Data displayed in large typeface Always assume that your audience is blind. Displaying data in large typeface will make your slide highly visible and easy to look at.
    Information displayed in large typeface is easy to look at Use large typeface to ensure that your audience can see information from the last row.
  3. Use images. Images are exciting and can engage your audience better when used correctly. If you can find a suitable image that will represent your information, use the image on your slide instead of just texts. Millennials like to see images that resonate with the context of the presentation. Images of people, co-workers, and ethnic diversity in relaxed gender roles will appeal to Millennials at large. Always use high-resolution images with a clear focus on its subject and purpose.

    Example slide using high-res image Use a high resolution image that resonates with the context of the presentation.
    Example slide using high-res image Images of people, co-workers, and ethnic diversity in relaxed gender roles will appeal to Millennials at large.
  4. Use infographics. An interesting way to display data in less cluttered approach is using infographics. When used correctly, it can communicate complex data clearly in a simplified format. For starters, we can organise data in five, six, or seven segment areas within the slide. Then combine each set of data with an infographic element.

    Example of infographic slide Using a 5 segment infographic layout to display complex data in a organised and simple slide format.
    Example of infographic slide Show data in visual format by combining it with infographic elements.
  5. Use animation. Add subtle animation effects to otherwise static data will make the presentation interesting. Animation can also help show complex data that vary accordingly to a timeline. Always use simple animation effects so as not to add confusion to the data being displayed. Fancy effects like explosions, spinning, bouncing, etc., might not be suitable for formal presentation and should be avoided.

    Exciting static PIE chart A static chart shown clearly using large font is exciting.
    Animated PIE chart Adding appropriate animation to display data by layers can make the presentation highly engaging.
  6. Include short video. When communicating a complex process, work procedure, or explaining ‘how to’, it is good to include a video in the presentation. Millennials like videos. Videos make it easy to comprehend complex processes. It is important to include only relevant segments of the video. Do not play the whole five minute video when only a 30 second segment of the video is relevant.

Once Millennials are won over by a brand, they are fiercely loyal. Quoting from the article published by Exhibitor Magazine Online, 60% say that they are always or often faithful to the brands that they regularly engaged with. It is important that organisations engage them through methods that matter to them most.

The above pointers don’t just only apply to slides used for presenting to Millennials. They are also applicable to a wide audience type that organisations regularly engage. How we accept information today are also changing. More are beginning to realise the difficulties of reading cluttered content on slides projected in a presentation. It is easy to copy and paste cluttered raw information into slides, but it requires in-depth thinking and planning to develop slides that are simple and talks to the audience.

Moving ahead, organisations must therefore decide how they would like to project their brands regardless whether their audiences are Millennials or not.


The author, ANG Tian Teck is a coach, trainer, and speaker, specialising in inspiring organisations and business leaders to deliver high impact presentations. He has coached, trained, and infected over 10,000 individuals across the region with his Amazing Sticky Presentations® approach. Tian Teck is also the author of two books, Sticky Presentations®, and Spinning I.D.E.A.S.

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