Building a Persuasive Presentation by Simon Morton

In our Present to Succeed Lessons Learned series, we include all of the fascinating, valuable, and wow moments from the sessions of our debut 2021 conference. We aim to share with you the best takeaways and help you improve your presentation craft every day.

Simon Morton is the founder of Eyeful Presentations Ltd, one of the world’s largest presentation agencies, and the author of the book “The Presentation Lab.” He was also one of our great speakers at the Present to Succeed 2021 Conference.

In his session, Simon shared how to build a compelling presentation and emphasized the significance of understanding your audience. Learn more below.

Why are we presenting?

What is the goal of presenting? This is perhaps the most essential question that people seldom ask themselves.

What are the impact and importance? Why are we subjecting ourselves to this torment? Explained simply, we use presentations to connect with audiences, convey ideas, and get people behind a vision. Ultimately, that ability to connect and share knowledge in this way is really powerful.

It’s often used as a translation tool, as well, to engage and connect with complex material that your audience can then not only understand but then do something with it. And all that links firmly with what Simon thinks is the most important part of presentations, which is to prompt our audience to take action.

A presentation ultimately is used as a tool for connection, translation of matter, or triggering action.

The idea of persuasion can feel a little pushy because you try to convince somebody to do something. But, if you’re not going to get your audience to take action or make them think or behave differently because of your presentation, then why are you doing it in the first place? It’s all about driving action.

Why are you giving this speech in the first place? What do you want to gain from it? What do you hope your audience will take away from it?

With that in mind, Simon revealed the five stages of building that persuasive presentation storyline. Each of them is a building block to help you create a presentation that engages, connects, allows you to translate your information, and ultimately drives action. The stages are: audience, aim, ingredients, structure, and share.


The audience is the most important stakeholder in any presentation. It always starts with the audience. Your audience is giving you their time, something that they don’t get back. As a result, you must understand why they are there and what value you can provide to help them reach the desired conclusion.

Moreover, the reality is that your audience is people, and they have different things in their minds. Do not make the mistake of assuming that your audience is always defined by their job title. Consider why they’re there. Why are they giving their time to you?

Since the audience should always be the foundation of your presentation, Simon shared a tool that allows you to build your presentation around your audience. There are three elements at play – the visionary, emotional, and factual or logical element.

Simon shared with the audience a tool he uses to determine where his audience is standing that he calls Audience Heatmap.

A factual or logical audience would want the facts. Visionaries are the people that are not thinking about today, not even tomorrow, but about the longer-term impact. The emotional ones can be in a positive or a negative mindset. Are they being forced to attend by their employer and be questioned about it later, or are they excited to see your presentation?

Those factors combine to form a heatmap that may assist you in creating an audience-centric presentation by providing them with the value they desire rather than merely speaking what you want to say.

You should have in mind where your audience is on the heatmap when building your presentation. 


Make sure that your presentation is not all about you. Simon demonstrated how he approaches this, which is a simple three-level charting of the presentation’s objectives.

The must is, what is the minimum you want to achieve from this presentation? What is the least that you want your audience to take away from this presentation?

Then the intend level is what you expect most of the time.

The like is for when things go brilliantly, what your audience might do if you get lucky.

Even if you do not have sales immediately after your presentation, your intention to share is fulfilled perhaps successfully. And it all starts here; your audience now knows who to contact if they need your service or product.

Simon shared how he prioritizes his desired outcome in a way that there is an ultimate achievable goal, a middle one, and a best-case scenario one.

Simon gave an example with his presentation:
His must is that his audience at the conference should get some value from his session. Then he intends to make people believe he might have something worthwhile to say, so they go to his website to see what he’s up to and possibly buy “The Presentation Lab” book from there. Then the like is if his audience thinks that everything he said is fantastic. And that if they have a major problem in their business, they will ask him to come and help fix it.

In a nutshell, his must is that he provides value; his intend is that the audience responds with “Whoa, you’ve touched me,” and the like would be if the audience responds with “We need you to come in and do some more.”

Remember, if you leave your audience not knowing what to do with the information you are giving them, you won’t have delivered on the potential of the presentation.


This is where it all could go wrong because you could clutter it with loads of information. Three elements within the presentation should be balanced – the design, the content, and the message.

The message is what you want your audience to remember; they will not recall all the little details. It is what motivates them to take action. Everything else becomes a lot easier after you’ve thought about your message.

Your presentation’s content is what can make or break it. If you put too much of it in there and it’s not structured well, your audience will switch off. Simple as that. So only use the content that reinforces your point. The less you have, the better your presentation is likely to be.

Then you may begin to consider the design. We all know how powerful visual communication is. It is a meaningful art form. However, if you start too early, all you’ll be doing is painting around the edges and making things pretty.


You can have all the previous ingredients, but if you don’t use them correctly, you end up with a bit of a rambling story. Nothing will hit home. The Audience Pathway Model is a presentation structure that Simon and his team utilize for its clients. It’s a four-act structure in which you create engagement, properly communicate information, establish credibility, and motivate action.

Story structure is the way of leading the audience through a process and to a point of action with their permission. That is what this is all about. That’s why an audience-centric story structure works as effectively as it does.

Simon went into detail about the structure he uses the most with his clients – the Audience Pathway Model.

A powerful way to start your presentation is to demonstrate empathy and understanding. It’s also worth noting that it is all about them and has nothing to do with you. How many offices you have is not relevant at the beginning. Start by showing them that you understand the challenges that they face. Things with which they can identify.

Once you’ve got people’s attention, you may start sharing material that supports your message. You can demonstrate that you comprehend their problems and that you are aware of their alternatives. Then show how you addressed and solved their issue in a slightly different way.

Afterward, you may assist them in processing all that information by establishing your credibility on the subject using proof points such as case studies. Explain how your strategy differs from the other alternatives available to them.

After that, you can now talk about your company’s size or the qualifications of your team. Just do not lead with that information.

Then do not end your presentation with a thank you or by asking simply “Any questions?”. You will kill the opportunity to drive action. Instead, put forward three options. And guess what those three options are? Your must, intend, and like!

In the end, don’t say “Thank you” or “Any questions?”. You will kill the opportunity to drive action. Instead, present three options. And can you guess what those three alternatives are? Your must, intend, and like!

The Audience Pathway Model in detail.


Once you’ve developed all of those elements, you’ll need to decide how you’ll share them with your audience. And this is where the majority of blogs, books, videos, and masterclasses focus on how to give outstanding presentations in a formal setting. If you stand on a stage, they are all relevant, but nowadays, we do many presentations that are not formal. Presentations can be formal, informal, or interactive.

The best sales and persuasive presentations are interactive conversations. Yet, we never equip people with the skills or tools to conduct those conversations better. These free-flowing conversations are more valuable than anything.

A rising percentage of presentations are not even identified as such. They’re casual conversations in which you’re doodling and exchanging ideas visually to support your message, which will drive the outcome. The good news is that the tools we have at our disposal have never been better.

So, think beyond the traditional linear presentation. And keep in mind all of the mediums you have at your disposal nowadays.

Let's summarize

Let us conclude with when it comes to the audience – they are people, and you have to think of them as such. Disregard what their business card says because even the CFOs have hearts. Be very clear about your message, and then make sure that your content backs up your message.

Your audience is critical in any presentation, never more so than in a persuasive presentation, and Simon showed what he believes are the crucial stages when building a persuasive presentation from the ground up.

Let us know by commenting on what the most valuable learning from Simon’s session was for you!

And while reading is great, why not see the whole session yourself? Get the Story Recordings for the discounted price of €39 or all 30+ sessions for just €79!


Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!