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10 Tips for Your Employee Benefits Presentations Inspired by TED Talks


Want to avoid the dreaded yawns during your open enrollment and employee benefits presentations? We’ve compiled ten tips inspired by some of the greatest TED talks ever given. Although the subject matter of benefits might initially sound a little dull compared to the life-changing ideas of the typical TED talk, benefits have a more significant impact on people’s everyday lives. Let’s get them excited about their latest benefits package because benefits can save lives!

Start Your Employee Benefits Presentation on Paper

Many people begin creating their presentations in Powerpoint or Google Slides. This approach might seem logical, but it’s way too easy to get caught up with the look and feel of your employee benefits presentation rather than your message. Starting on a paper notepad or word processor allows you to focus on your main message, efficiently developing your supporting points and the flow of your story. Your slides should be additive to your presentation and give the viewer a visual experience for what you are saying. Your slides shouldn’t include everything you plan on saying or read like your presenter notes. A few words with a visual will have a more significant impact on what you are saying than ten bullet points that you read out loud to an audience.

Maintain the Look and Feel of Your Brand Through Your Employee Benefits Presentation

I’ve seen too many presentations that contain design elements from a patchwork of different graphical elements taken from a variety of sources. When visuals jump too much from slide to slide, it’s easy for the viewer to disengage. When you maintain consistent visual elements throughout a presentation, the user can focus on the information. The most important things you should consider are:

  • Color palette
  • Fonts
  • Logo placement
  • Images
  • Icons
  • Charts
  • Tone of voice

Ask your marketing department if they have a brand guide; this is a document that contains all your company brand elements and will help you make everything look great.

Less Is More

If your slide has too much text, people are going to read it versus listening to you. They can’t hear what you are saying and read at the same time. Your brain doesn’t work that way! Having less text on a slide is ALWAYS better than having too much text. You don’t need to have everything you want to say listed on a slide. In rare cases where you really want to have a lot of text, make words appear one line at a time using animations. This technique will allow you to keep people’s attention the whole time.  

Don’t Do This!

I am writing every word that I am going to say aloud when I’m giving my employee benefits presentation. My slide has way too much text on the screen which makes it difficult for people to read AND listen to everything at once. A better strategy would be to add a few key short bullet points on this slide and elaborate on them when I’m talking.


Use Humor

Humor is a great way to establish rapport with an audience quickly. It helps to get an audience’s attention and maintain it. Humor is a perfect way to add a human element to your benefits presentation. Studies have even shown that people have a higher recall of facts when given with humor.

When using humor, it’s best to keep it to the content of your presentation. It’s easier to relate to anecdotes from your personal life when making a joke. Make sure to keep your humor relevant to the presentation at hand. Don’t just add random jokes. Also, I need to add a little disclaimer here… nothing off-color, dirty or crude – let’s live by those HR rules. I would also make sure to pass your humor by a few people so there are no duds.

A picture is worth a thousand words

This expression is old but true. Photos can make a boring presentation into something outstanding. Finding the right photo can take time, but it’s worth it. Try to use pictures that speak to the concepts you’re discussing. Your photo could be metaphoric or something more literal to the topic. Sometimes the best photo is an illustration.

Things to avoid:

  • Reinforcing stereotypes
  • Fake smiles and exaggerated expressions
  • Overly posed images of static people
  • Heavily photoshopped photos
  • Cheesy, overused stock shots

Here are a few sources of great free images that don’t look too fake:

Don’t go crazy with the transitions

When Microsoft added transitions to Powerpoint, for two years the world suffered from bad transitions. You see them less these days, but sometimes you’ll run into someone that just discovered them, and goes overboard. Nothing can bring the eye-rolling faster than slide transitions. Don’t be lame. Keep your transitions to simple, quick effects. I would even go on record and say if you are going to use a simple transition, use the same one throughout the whole presentation.

Make your benefits presentation interactive

Make sure to ask questions while giving your benefits presentation. After about 10 minutes, your audience’s attention drops dramatically. Asking questions adds a soft break in your presentation and demands attention. Incorporate your audiences answers within your presentation. Incorporate a prop if possible. If you have a vendor with a cool mobile healthcare app, show a live demo.

Reproduce and simplify charts and graphs

I’ve seen too many benefits presentations with overly complicated graphs lifted right from Kaiser or some other industry source. Not only do these types of graphics clash with a brand design, many times the graphics are overly complicated for the audience. Recreating graphics while simplifying the data to its most impactful state makes the information easier to absorb. It might seem like a little bit of a waste of time, but it improves the flow. Remember, the difference between data and information is its presentation.

Body language mastery

Controlling your body language can be difficult but has a profound effect on your employee benefits presentation. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Smile more – Research from TED Talks shows that the longer a speaker smiles, the higher their perceived intelligence ratings were. Just keep the smile real.
  • Use your hands – A study analyzing TED Talks found that the speakers with the most video views used twice as many hand gestures.
  • Pause – Don’t be afraid of pausing for a few seconds to let a point sink in.
  • Slow down – Giving benefits presentations can get your heart racing which can lead to speaking too fast. Intentionally slow down your language.
Be Honest

Sometimes everything in a benefits presentation isn’t good news. Deductibles go up, doctor networks change, plan designs evolve…it’s happening at every company. You can try to avoid the issue in your presentation, but it’s better to address these changes early and head on. It beats ending your meeting with a ton of negative questions from your employees. People will appreciate the honesty (even if they don’t do it at the moment) and it’s always better to get the bad news first. A study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed that over 75% of people would rather get any bad news early. End on a positive note!

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