Is The Heading of Your Next Presentation So Important? – What’s In A Title? – More Than You Think A presentation article by Matthew Hill

 ***The art of grabbing eyeballs, making hearts race and stirring people, just enough, to take immediate & decisive action***

The title you chose is not a single use item – The top line of your invitation or article is not just a fire and forget sentence.

I see so many presenters employing minimum effort and no imagination, and so, wasting an oh so important moment, and then, suffering the consequences – A low revving audience, already drifting way with thoughts of sex, shopping and wondering what they will eat for supper tonight?

It’s Everywhere Remember, your presentation title will appear in multiple forms, and, each time it appears, it performs a slightly different psychological function…

Eyeballs and heart rate

E Mail invitation – Competing with click bait/spam/junk mail for the attention of the busy executive who is in default, “swiftly delete’ mode. This is tough.

Too understated a title – It won’t offend but also won’t interrupt/excite/galvanise the reader.

Too much, over the top or in your face – Spam like irritation – BANG – Deleted and gone.

Web site blurb – You have less competition here. The viewer is more committed and further along their decision-making pathway when they are reading this – They are now looking out for any reasons why not? rather than why? A slip here is really a lost opportunity when you were so close to getting the prize.

MC Introduction – Too cheesy or arrogant and the MC will turn on you with honed cynicism (I have suffered this fate myself – The host reads out your words with exaggeration, unsubtly pointing out your hyperbole and overkill – and then, brutally adds – “That is a big promise from a man… and he wrote the title and this introduction himself!” Singed to a crisp.

Or, overblowing your credibility – “And now, prepare to be utterly amazed by undoubtedly, the World’s foremost expert… – Disaster WILL follow.

Presentation Slide Title – Here crimes include being too wordy, to vague or too general – The Vague List of Death Words include – quality, excellence, growth, markets, sustainable, change, VUCA, planet, etc. – Titles containing overused words will numb your audience and create a mini zombie state in the room.

Walk the title talk itself – Please, remember, you do actually have to deliver on the promise of your title!!!

The Title has Many lives – We have hinted at the heavy lifting your title has to achieve for you. It has multiple purposes at various stages.

Interruption – Stopping busy people in their tracks / diverting them from the delete button or stopping their eyes from scanning elsewhere.

Attention – Getting something to shift in the viewer’s mind so that they semi-consciously engage – Will you hit a nerve and produce a moment of recognition?

Emotional disruption – Bizarrely, negative motivation is 2 or 3 times stronger than positive motivation, probably harking back to primitive times when our survival senses kept us safe in animal filled woods – We are all alert to scarcity, risk, danger. Use this in your title.

Stop, decide & dive deeper – It is a big ask to get someone to SPEND and invest some of their most precious resource on you? – TIME. And, there’s more…

People forget the second bonus title opportunity – The Strap Line – Giving you a second bite of the attention cherry – This is the chance to repair some of the emotional damage you have just inflicted with your provocative and terrifying main title.

With the strap line, we can address some deeper issues;

WIIFT? Benefits benefits benefits – If they invest time/money/attention in your show, what will they get at the end?

Repair – A quick reprieve from hell, soothing them as they begin to feel less violated by your outrageous title and become more engaged.

Reassurance – Here is the place to establish trust, if you can. Worth the trouble? – The constant equation to balance for busy people is, time put in v output. Here is the place to sway them towards feeling, “Yes, this is worth my time.”

Trust – Proving to them that your communiqué is not about a timeshare or pyramid selling scam.

Reinforcement – The chance to create a strong first impression aligning them with your purpose.

Promise – A title is a promise and represents a contract between you, the presenter supplier, and them, the audience receiver. In order to build and retain trust, you must be competent, maintain good intentions and keep the promises you stated in your title.

Pitch – Every title is a plea for a deal – An exchange of attention for advantage. Knowing this will sharpen your mind when it comes to writing and publishing your next presentation title.

Target – Every title has a target – If you miss yours, you will engage with and, soon annoy, your duped and confused “other” audience – Not cool and a waste of everybody’s time.


Creativity Time – Brainstorm 100 words on a page – Go for it with an initial burst of words. Expect to then dry up. Take a moment and wait for a second wind to arrive. Go for it again. And, you will run out a second time. You are not done yet. Wait… and, one more burst. Great – Now you will have captured 90% of the words that you can. Next – work on word combinations, double meanings and clever formulations or arrangements and, with a bit of luck, you MIGHT just have a compelling and effective title. Find out by testing your new property on a tame, kind and honest audience. (My youngest son is my harshest critic and so a perfect test subject for my persuasion based text – If Benj doesn’t go for it, I chuck it out! – I have learnt that his truth IS THE TRUTH.)

When you have something that works – Spread it wide and watch the attention and attendance build. You have earned every new eyeball and ear. Well done.

Conclusion – I hope we have delivered on the title of this piece about titles. Are you now ready to upgrade your next presentation and top it with a zinger of a heading and a benefits laden strap line? I hope so. If you need any further input from me than just drop me a short e mail at

Happy presenting…

Author Profile – Matthew Hill is an author, keynote speaker, presentation trainer, presentation coach and interculturalist. He has given more than 100 keynote speeches in more than 30 countries and has written 5 books and many articles about presenting, presentation skills and writing for impact.

Do contact him on 07540 65 9995.

About matthew

Matthew Hill is a leadership author, coach and trainer with a passion for helping newly promoted managers become inner and outer leaders.
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