PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

Inclusive Presenting with Nolan Haims

PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

Inclusive Presenting with Nolan Haims

In our Present to Succeed Lessons Learned series, we include all 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 single day.

This time we want to talk about Nolan Haim’s session on inclusive presenting. That’s a broad but quite an important topic that we as an industry are just starting to learn more about.

With more than 20 years of experience in visual communications, Nolan Haims has created and overseen thousands of presentations, including keynote addresses for Fortune 500 CEOs, TED Talks, and multi-million dollar winning agency pitches.

Here’s a fun fact: Nolan was actually a magician in the past! An award-winning one! But now, his passion is all about presentation design. Nolan was one of the four speakers that held masterclasses during the first day of Present to Succeed 2021. His masterclass was about crafting data visualizations for effective communication. As our co-founder and Present to Succeed host Iva described him, he’s very straightforward and can explain very complicated topics in a very understandable way, and we loved that.

Nolan trains organizations to think visually, and in his Present to Succeed 2021 session, he made us think about how our presentations are being consumed by an ever-changing, diverse audience.

What is inclusive presenting all about

As Nolan explained in the very beginning, the idea is not about political correctness or yelling at people on Twitter for using the wrong word, as he said. The idea is to create presentations that are free of outdated stereotypes and represent the actual reality of the audience.

"Over the years, audiences have been changing, they are getting more diverse, and yet presentations are always not keeping up with those audiences."


Inclusivity is a vast topic that includes accessibility. But the most important thing is to be authentic and accurate to the audience that you’re talking to. Because, as Simon Morton taught us in his Present to Succeed 2021 session, “the audience is the most important stakeholder in any presentation.”

Nolan calmed us that it’s ok to make mistakes from an inclusivity standpoint. But the main thing he wanted us to take from his session was that we all really need to make a best faith effort.

So, what does the theme of inclusivity involve? As Nolan said, a lot of stuff, but here are the main ones: race and ethnicity, gender and sex, age, language, and ability. Nolan talked about those in the context of slide design, imagery, delivery, language, and something that will be interesting for our US audience, 508 compliance – a requirement for safe and accessible content for people with disabilities.

Nolan talked about all the aspects of inclusivity in presentations.

Accessibility in presentations

Something cool Nolan said that we have discussed before ourselves is that online speaker presentations should be like a good billboard – understandable in just a few seconds. Nolan talked about the Picture superiority effect – the scientifically proven fact that people process information far better as images than text.

He provided the audience with specific tips on making your slides more accessible, like increasing the text size and making the slides color-safe. That means being sure that the slides are understandable if there are people with certain types of color deficiency in your audience.

A slide from the presentation of Nolan Haims, Presentation Designer and Trainer

You can’t ask someone to take a business decision based on full-color charts and graphs if you know they can’t distinguish different colors.

Stereotypes in imagery

Nolan continued with specific examples on inclusivity related to gender. For example, the stereotype that all CEOs are male, nurses are female, and so on. And that’s important not just from a politically correct standpoint, but also from an authenticity standpoint. Are all CEOs white men in shirts, Nolan asked, and of course, the answer is no. So, it’s the right thing to not work with stereotypes or defaults, as Nolan calls them, in our presentations if we want to reflect the actual reality of our audiences.

"When you don't see yourself represented visually, there's a message inherently being sent that you don't matter, you don't exist."


Sofia Polyakova, Co-Founder and CEO of The Noun Project

A slide from the presentation of Nolan Haims, Presentation Designer and Trainer

“Are all CEOs young white men in striped shirts with beards? No.”

Let's summarize

Inclusivity in presentations isn’t important just from political correctness standpoint but from an authenticity standpoint. Keep in mind not to work with stereotypes in imagery, for which you can find resources online. Be mindful of your audience needs – the size of the text and the colors you use, especially in data viz. And just make a best faith effort.

Nolan Haims’ session is part of our Design track recordings that you can now get for only €39. And for €79, you can have all the 30+ sessions from Present to Succeed 2021.

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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!