6 neuroscience-backed presentation tips to ace your next SKO


Sales kickoffs, or SKOs, are an exciting meeting to bring the whole company together to discuss accomplishments, goals, and other important updates. SKOs are usually held at the beginning of the year or at the start of a new quarter and are designed to motivate, inspire, and strategize.

But how can you ensure you ace your next SKO? These science-backed presentation tips can help!

The best presentation tips for your next SKO (and why they work)

Think about what your audience wants to know

Sure, your CFO might geek out on all the financial jargon or your CMO might love to pull together a whole presentation on full-funnel strategies, but if you really want to ace your SKO, think about what your audience actually wants to know, not what you want to share.

Studies show that shorter presentations are more effective than longer ones. As an example, poorly performing investment presentations were 12 pages longer than the ones that performed well. Because of this, it’s important to keep your message short and sweet and to only touch on the points that are absolutely necessary for the audience. Ask yourself: what’s in it for the viewers? This presentation tip will help you build a deck catered to your audience.

Practice, practice, practice

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, he explains his “ten thousand hour rule.” This rule draws on the research by Dr. K Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor who studies peak performance. As Gladwell shares it, the rule states that all standout performers, from ballet dancers to Bill Gates, have spent 10,000 practicing their craft.

While we don’t mean to say that you have to spend tens of thousands of hours getting ready for your next SKO, we do want to share one of the most important presentation tips: practice as much as possible. Even if you’re familiar with the material, practicing a lot before your presentation helps you verbalize your ideas, get feedback, and adjust accordingly. Knowing how to verbally refine your ideas will help you feel more confident when it’s time for the real deal.

Use a narrative

According to Prezi, 90% of people believe that a strong narrative in a presentation is critical for engagement, 55% of people say a great story is primarily what holds their focus during a presentation, and 35% of millennials say they will only engage with content they feel has a great story or theme. Stale presentations will no longer do the trick at your next SKO, so use a narrative to capture your audience’s attention.

This presentation tip doesn’t have to be hard, either! If you’re presenting last quarter’s sales, make the numbers into a story rather than just reading off the slide. What happened? How did the sales team hit those goals? What does the progression look like? If you can create a beginning, middle, and end to your SKO, your audience is more likely to be engaged.

Start off strong

In a similar vein, you need to capture your audience’s interest early and keep them engaged. Any good writer knows that the hook and headline of a piece are the most important elements. According to Copyblogger, eight out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only two out of 10 will read the rest. Your SKO should follow the same idea. To implement this presentation tip, make sure your slides have catchy headlines and that you start your presentation off strong with interesting facts or stories.

Make your slides short and sweet


Speaking of slides, making each one succinct is another great presentation tip. Presentations with visual aids are 43% more persuasive than the same presentations without visuals. Also, audience members should be able to take in your slide and its meaning within 3 seconds.

Try to only put one idea on each slide; making them more visual and less text-heavy. Successful presenters don’t read off their slides, but instead, put the highlights on the slide and expand during the presentation. This presentation tip goes beyond SKOs and can help with other presentations in the future!

Make your presentation interactive

We are bombarded with so many messages a day, it’s hard to make yours stand out. But one presentation tip to keep your audience engaged is to make your SKO interactive. Numbers don’t lie: 70% of marketers believe that presenting interactive content is key for engaging your audience and 64% of people believe that a flexible presentation with two-way interaction is more engaging than a linear presentation. Plus, 2 million events and meetings are expected to utilize live polling and Q&A apps by 2020 so you don’t want to get left behind.

Interactive meetings and SKOs are the perfect way to make all your employees part of the discussion, especially if part of your team is remote. You can play trivia games, host a competition, or create a word cloud using live feedback from your audience. Instead of talking at your audience, talk with them.

Hosting a successful sales kickoff is no easy task, but these presentation tips can help keep your audience engaged and help motivate everyone for the future ahead. Check out our enterprise interactive live polling tools to make your next SKO one to remember.