How To Create Stage Presence

Published on
November 8, 2016

Steve Jobs was one of the greatest presenters of our time. His products were groundbreaking in of themselves but Jobs was a master storyteller and had the ability to influence a room of 20 or 2,000. He captivated and compelled every audience he was faced with and his presentations continue to impact the way we communicate today.

One of Jobs’ strengths was his skill for creating stage presence. Great presenters know that the ability to draw people in comes largely from a seemingly natural flair for showmanship and how they conduct themselves on the stage. It’s stage presence that distinguishes a presenter who can relay information, to one who can single-handedly bring the audience to his side. 

What is stage presence?

In acting, an actor doesn’t simply read his lines. Dialogue provides context but it’s how he delivers each line that makes up a critical component of the performance. Stage presence is a visible type of confidence, making the performance seem natural and never contrived. You may have recited the same lines a hundred times but each time it’s told like you just came up with it on the spot.

The type of performance doesn’t matter – whether it’s acting on camera, dancing on Broadway, or speaking at a board meeting – each one contains an audience that wants to be moved. Good stage presence means you take charge of the area around you and like a magnet, draw all of the energy and attention towards you. That’s what many in Hollywood call the “it” factor.

Whether you’re a performer or a presenter, stage presence is something that needs to be established. It may come naturally for some but even Jobs needed training and development to become the presenter he was known as.

Developing stage presence

You can use similar techniques that professional actors adopt to increase your stage presence. At the most basic level it requires you to utilize three basic foundations: your body language, voice, and senses.

Body language

When faced with a threat, animals will make themselves look bigger to scare their attacker away. Obviously our goal isn’t to intimidate our audience but the opposite action of appearing small makes you look afraid and submissive. The idea is that by standing tall and appearing larger than we seem helps to portray confidence to the audience and boosts our own self-confidence in the process.

Another way to look bigger is to amplify the movements you make. Subtle gestures can easily get lost in a large room full of people. Think of the guy sitting all the way in the back – will he notice where you’re pointing? How many numbers you’re holding up? The air quotes you’re making when you’re telling a funny story? While you don’t want to be overly dramatic, you should slightly exaggerate your movements so people can see every gesture.

Use your body to help you tell your story. Take a look at Benjamin Zander’s Ted Talk. You can see that his gestures and movements around the stage pair perfectly with every line he delivers: his movements are quick and jerky when he’s building up his point and slows down when he’s delivering the key takeaway. Body language is a great way to illustrate your presentation and emphasize the tone of your message.


Just like your movements, you can use your voice to command stage presence. An actor alters his voice by varying speed, pitch, and volume to communicate each line and express the underlying emotion behind it. For example, speaking louder draws attention to certain parts of your speech or pausing after a point allows the audience to absorb what was just said. Without variation, a monotone voice will quickly cause boredom so changing it helps to sustain the audience’s attention.

It’s important that while you memorize a loose presentation script, you shouldn’t read out each line like it’s coming from memory. Your voice should be natural and expressive, like you’re having this talk for the first time despite having practiced your presentation dozens of times before. Consider how you’d normally converse in a conversation with a coworker or friend and think about the use of your voice when you tell a story or when you explain a concept. Try to utilize this voice when you’re presenting so that you sound as much like your authentic self as possible.


It’s not enough to remember your lines and perform them – a presenter needs to read his audience and adjust based on their body language and expression

A stand-up comedian may have a routine he’s practiced but he needs to keep his senses on alert and adjust his act according to his audience’s reaction. He feels their energy and if his potty humor is falling flat, he needs to improvise and move on to a different joke to keep the crowd with him.

Look out into the crowd. An engaged crowd will be sitting up and forward with a neutral or friendly expression. A bored crowd will be leaning back into their seat, looking at their phone, or resting their head on their hand. This is your cue to change up your tune.

It’s impractical to change up your presentation every time your audience starts to drift off but there are ways to switch things up and reel them back in. You can move on to your next point or switch the limelight from you to them by surveying the audience with a show of hands. Bring more excitement into your voice and create movement around the stage. At the end of the day, maybe everyone’s just getting hungry and it’s time to break for lunch. Find different ways to break up your presentation so you don’t lose the audience.

Work on your stage presence with the same techniques used by actors and performers. You might not be acting out Shakespeare monologues but the goal for an actor and presenter is the same – put on a good show!

Infographic on how presenters can create stage presence

Frequently Asked Questions

Working with Stinson: The Presentation Agency

What exactly do presentation agencies do?

We provide all the help you may need to design presentations that achieve your goals. This can include content consulting, presentation slide design, custom icons and illustrations, and presentation handouts—ultimately, our team of PowerPoint designers and consultants develop a comprehensive presentation solution that meets your specific needs.

Why do companies work with presentation agencies?

Consider how much time you (or your team) spend making PowerPoint presentations for meetings. Think about the back and forth over which fonts, colors, icons, and images to use. Is it okay to use bullet points? Did you use the right brand colors? Does the slide look too crowded and busy? Or does it look too plain? How do you create the look and feel that you're picturing? After the design is done, do you have enough time to practice presenting?

As presentation experts, it is our second nature to understand your goals and work with you to create the professional PowerPoint deck that you envisioned. You can learn more about our 3-phase process here.

By leaving the presentation design to an agency like Stinson, you save yourself the time and worry over the look, feel, and progression of your presentation—we make your PowerPoint presentation-ready so that you can focus on the presentation delivery.

Which presentation design service will I need?

As a presentation company, we offer every service you may need to develop your you may need to develop your PowerPoint—however, it's tough to say exactly which services of ours would benefit you the most without having chatted about your company, industry, and presentation uses.

We've generalized the scenarios that we regularly see and help our clients with. If your situation is similar to any of the below, then rest assured that our presentation experts have proven success in developing solutions.

  • You have an upcoming presentation with investors or clients. You feel your slide deck looks outdated or dull, and you don't know how to help it. You're also not sure if the content in your presentation conveys your value. View our case study where our presentation development and content consulting services helped our client achieve their investor funding goals.
  • Your company has regular internal department presentations. Everyone works on their respective slides, which are then combined into one presentation deck. The resulting PowerPoint does not have a cohesive look and somehow, there are five new shades of your corporate colors. We can help you identify your common slide layouts and design easy-to-use custom PowerPoint templates so your team members can create seamless, unified slides.
  • Your company has a great PowerPoint template that strongly reflects your branding, but your team tends to include too much text and irrelevant images on their slides. During the presentation, key messages are lost. We offer presentation training for exactly this—we'll train your team to create better slides more efficiently.

Expectations when working with us

How does partnering with a PowerPoint designer work?

Once you contact us, we'll meet with you and ask for as much context as possible regarding the project: what materials you already have, who is presenting, who is the audience, and so on—this is our Discover phase. From there, we move onto Develop and Design where we start defining the narrative and visual characteristics of your new presentation. For more details, please read our process.

How long do projects take?

Our standard turnaround for presentation development is 2–4 weeks; for custom presentation templates, our typical turnaround is 3–6 weeks. We know this is a wide range, but due to the collaborative nature of our presentation design process (i.e. asking for and incorporating your feedback), our turnaround time also relies on your responsiveness and availability. We do offer a rush service if your timelines are short.

How much does a presentation design cost?

We price on a project-by-project basis, involving a number of key factors outlined in our pricing model. However, we do require a minimum project cost of $1,500.

We often see companies that do not have budget allocations for presentation design and are hesitant to make the initial investment. We understand—at first, it can be difficult to see the value and difference a well-designed, practical presentation can make. For our clients that started in this situation, we worked on a smaller pilot test project; when they saw the positive ROI of the presentation, they were able to secure larger budgets and found more presentations that needed our help.

What are the final files that I will receive?

All of our final PowerPoint (or other presentation software) deliverables are shared with you in its native, editable file format. We are also able to provide a PDF or video version of your presentation if you would like.

Any presentation collateral we design for your project is shared as a ready-to-print PDF, unless if you specify a different preference.

Have you worked with other clients in my industry? Can you share related samples?

Our list of clients spans a wide range of industries, some of which we hadn't known of prior to the client's project. Since our approach involves familiarizing ourselves with the client's business and industry, we've become a team of jacks-of-all-trades for industry knowledge.

We're able to share blinded, industry-specific samples of presentations that our clients have consented to. Contact us if you're interested!


Aside from PowerPoint, do you work in Google Slides? Keynote? Prezi?

Yes! While we prefer designing PowerPoint presentations due to its robust features that let us create advanced designs, we've created custom presentation designs in Google Slides and Keynote at our clients' request.

We generally do not design presentations in Prezi since it does not support the level of design customization that we need for our clients. Instead, we use PowerPoint to create the same animations and layouts that are characteristic of Prezi presentations—you can view examples in our portfolio.

Will we run into issues if we use Mac and/or Windows PC?

There are some differences in functionality between PowerPoint for Mac and PowerPoint for Windows—but these are not for your concern! We use both Mac and Windows computers at Stinson, so we're able to ensure cross-device compatibility with every PowerPoint presentation we design. During our initial call with you, we'll ask you for these tech specs so that we know to bear them in mind when working on your project.

Does it matter which version of PowerPoint we use?

Yes; the latest versions of PowerPoint have new functions and features that earlier versions of PowerPoint cannot load. We'll take note of your tech setup to ensure that our presentations for you run as intended.

Designing with branding

How are you able to design with our company's brand?

If you have any brand guidelines, we ask you to provide them early on in the process so that we can familiarize ourselves not only with your logos, colors, and fonts, but the overarching brand tone. Our collaborative process includes rounds of revision for you to provide your feedback on the presentation design.

Are you able to design within our very strict corporate brand guidelines?

Absolutely! Many of our clients are companies with well-established brand identities. We do our due diligence to maintain the integrity of their branding when designing their presentations and collateral.

Strict brand guidelines do not necessarily restrict the possibility of creating a sophisticated PowerPoint; our presentation designers thoughtfully use photos, animations, and other visuals to build the story.

We don't have concrete branding yet or we're in the process of updating our brand. Can you work without defined brand elements?

Yes! When we work with clients who are still ironing out the details of their branding, we ask them to provide us any materials they have already and to share their design inspirations. From there, we lay out moodboards of different tones and styles to see which resonates the most with what our client has in mind.


We have highly sensitive information. Will my data remain confidential?

Absolutely—we respect the proprietary nature of businesses, and enforce a strict confidentiality policy company-wide. From the first point of contact with you, we assume a non-disclosure agreement (NDA); we are happy to sign your company's NDA as well.

Where do you store my files and data?

All of our files are stored securely in an industry-leading content server. The server exceeds regulatory standards and encrypts each file using AES 256-bit encryption in diverse locations.

Additionally, the Stinson team works completely in-house, so your files will not cross borders.

How secure is my data?

We take data security seriously. We enforce numerous internal policies and procedures to ensure that Stinson continues to meet compliance and security standards for data protection, including multi-factor authentication for all company accounts and access restrictions.

Stinson Design logo icon

We’d love to hear about your project.

Complete the form below and one of our consultants will reach out within 24 hours.

Thank you!
Your request has been received.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
This site uses cookies and similar technologies to analyze traffic.
Learn more about how we use cookies