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How to Create a Presentation Your Audience Loves

I hate boring presentations. They don’t benefit the presenter or the audience. Sitting in a boring presentation is like being trapped in an invisible prison. So to rid the world of bad presentations, whether at conferences or meetings, I’m going to breakdown the elements of engaging presentations.

To make a presentation that captivates the audience, you need to understand two things:
1. What your audience cares about
2. How to capture and keep the attention of the audience

In this article, I’ll explore how you can incorporate core desires into your presentation. 


Every audience is different, but we all share core desires and motivations. Once you understand the core desires we all share, you can add specifics that relate to your industry, whether it’s farming or event technology.

There are several theories about what motivates people. The simplest theory of human motivation I’ve found comes from Clayton Alderfer, who modified Maslow’s hierarchy into what he called ERG theory. People seek existence, relatedness and growth (in that order).

Going further, in the book Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices, Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria list four core human drives that everyone shares:

  1. The Drive to Acquire
    Our drive to acquire isn’t limited to just material things. People can be driven to acquire a higher status or more power and influence.
  2. The Drive to Bond
    Whether it’s on social media or in person, we are wired to connect and bond with others.
  3. The Drive to Learn
    Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it fuels many human endeavors. We all want to become smarter.
  4. The Drive to Defend
    We’re all driven to protect ourselves, our property, and our beliefs.
    In the book The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman adds a fifth core human drive:
  5. The Drive to Feel
    We all love to experience pleasure or excitement.

I believe the most neglected core desire is the drive to feel. As emotion and memory are closely linked, an injection of emotion into your presentation will likely make it more memorable. And the easiest way to add emotion to your presentation is through a story. Stories can make us feel a variety of things, including anticipation, tension, relief, and happiness.


When preparing a presentation, ask yourself: Which core desires am I tapping into? Which core desires can I include in my presentation?

To find more specific ideas relating to what your audience cares about, look at what your audience consumes online. Which sites do they read? Where do they congregate online? Once you find a place where they congregate, take notice of topics that are popular. One easy way to do this is to use a tool like BuzzSumo that shows you the most shared articles from any site.

Another option is simply to ask your audience what they care about. We’ve seen presenters poll the audience with great success, letting them vote on which topic the presenter should discuss.


Understanding your audience and what they care about is a critical component of any great presentation (or business). But just understanding your audience isn’t enough to create a memorable presentation. Great presenters are like magicians–they know how to capture and control the attention of the audience.


You don’t need a big budget or flamboyant tricks; you just need to understand how the brain is wired. Find out how to capture the attention of any audience by watching our webinar, Make Your Meetings Matter: Capturing Attention and Inspiring Action.