Andrea Pacini is a Presentation and Public Speaking Coach and the founder of Ideas on Stage UK, who for the last eleven years have been working with clients like Microsoft, Lacoste, The World Bank, and more. Andrea, himself, is on a mission to change the way people think about presenting and has a 10-year vision to help a thousand purpose-driven entrepreneurs share their message in a memorable and impactful way.

In this episode with him, we chat about business presentations, effective presentation design, the key success factors in presenting, and the specifics and differences between in-person and online presenting.

How Andrea ended up in the presentation industry

Andrea revealed that it all began for him when he was still a university student. He came upon a book that we’re all familiar with, “Presentation Zen” by Garr Reynolds, which opened his eyes to what it means to create and deliver powerful presentations. He then began his journey of becoming the best presenter he could be. He realized after some time that he could also help others improve their presentation skills, so he did. He began with a blog, which grew into a company, which is now known as Ideas on Stage UK.

His company has allowed him to combine his passion for good presentations with another passion for doing good through business. Andrea stated that he believes that business can and should be a force for good in the world. And that’s why he often works with purpose-driven entrepreneurs and their teams who want to grow their business and increase their influence through presenting.

The key areas that you should improve on

There are three key areas people should improve on, according to Andrea – the message, the visuals, and the delivery aspect.

When we think about presenting skills, we frequently think of PowerPoint and slides. The most crucial thing, though, is having a story. You must have a compelling message. A typical problem arises when the presenter is so knowledgeable about the subject that they believe they are communicating effectively and engagingly, but the listener does not have that experience.

The other key area is presentation design. Death by PowerPoint is still happening. However, if you have a clear message, you also need to be able to amplify it using effective visual aids. And the third area is delivery. If you do not effectively deliver your message, it would be like owning a fast car, without knowing how to drive it properly.

The story

When we deliver a presentation, we wrongly believe it is our presentation, but it is not. Andrea gave a great example: if you want to give someone a present, it is their present, not yours. So, before you open PowerPoint or any other presentation program, you should get to know your audience as much as possible.

Andrea talked about the ABCs of preparation: the Audience, their Burning needs, and Context. So, take time and answer those three for yourself before any presentation. You will find it easier to build your message in a way that is relevant to the audience and their needs.

The design

Keep the slides as simple as possible, as simplicity is key, Andrea emphasized. He has discovered that you are often stuck with the presenting tool in business, therefore you follow what the tool tells you. When the tool tells you what to do, you begin with a boring title at the top, followed by bullet points, sometimes some odd ClipArt, and finally the logo in the corner. That is the typical death by PowerPoint.

Because of the way the brain works, people cannot read and listen to you at the same time. So, keep it simple, and make sure your slides support your message rather than detract from it.

The delivery

One of the most needed things for a better delivery is preparation. We often look at brilliant speakers and think to ourselves, “Wow, they have it so easy.” That, however, is not the case. They work hard and make it look simple and natural.

Great speakers practice their speeches. They read aloud numerous times from beginning to conclusion, as if they were addressing a live audience. Also, just because you have the fastest car doesn’t mean you’ll win the race. The driver’s performance is critical. It’s the same in public speaking and presenting.

The three key differences between face-to-face and online presentations

Andrea shared three key differences between face-to-face and online presentations. And of course, first, is the technology. You should familiarize yourself with the differences and be prepared to go ahead and deliver a great presentation anyway, even if any issue occurs.

Another difference is the amount of audience participation you intend to achieve. Interacting with your audience is always crucial, but it’s much more so when you’re presenting virtually. When giving a live presentation, the audience’s attention begins to wane after approximately 10 minutes, and you must re-capture it every ten minutes. Those 10 minutes are reduced to three minutes when presenting online. So, you have to do even something as easy as asking a question and inviting the audience to put something in the chat every 3 to 5 minutes.

And the last difference is from a delivery perspective. Not the same principles apply. For example, online, you still want to have good eye contact, or you still want to have appropriate body language or hand gestures, but the way you apply these principles is different. So, for example, in eye contact virtually, you need to look at the camera. That’s where the audience is.

Overall, the principles are the same, but the way you apply them is different.


You can connect with Andrea Pacini on his personal LinkedIn or follow him on Instagram. Do not forget to check out his company website here Ideas on Stage.

Resources that Andrea shared kindly:
A free PDF copy of the book “Business Presentation Revolution”:
The Impactful Presenter Scorecard, to assess your presentation skills in less than 5 minutes:
His company’s free web classes:

Listen to the full episode!

YouTube video