6 Things Every Modern Presentation Needs

In 2005, Daniel Pink wrote a best-selling book called A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. In it, he talks about our transition from the information age, dominated by the left brain thinking needed for jobs like accounting and programming, to the conceptual age, which is dominated by the right brain thinking needed for jobs like designing and counselling. Pink shares 6 senses that we’ll need to succeed in the conceptual age. So today, we are sharing his 6 senses and asking the question: are your presentations still stuck in the information age?

If you want your presentations to resonate with today’s audiences, you need to make sure you are using Pink’s 6 senses: design, story, symphony, play, empathy, and meaning (shown below in a graphic from GeoffMcDonald.com).

Let’s break these down and see how you can use them to take your presentation to the next level.


“It’s no longer sufficient to create a product, a service, an experience, or a lifestyle that’s merely functional. Today it’s economically crucial and personally rewarding to create something that is also beautiful, whimsical, or emotionally engaging.”- Daniel Pink

In an interview with Oprah, Pink says, “everything is a product of a design decision” and he talks about how he trained himself to see good and bad design by carrying a design notebook. Watch the full interview here. If you are giving presentations that are text-heavy and look like documents, that’s a good clue you have an information age PowerPoint on your hands. Today’s presentation design communicates clearly while also being beautiful. Check out our portfolio for examples of beautiful presentation design.


“Somehow in our somewhat serious society, narration and storytelling have been banished as soft, as fake, as not serious, when in fact they are fundamental to how human beings process the world.”- Daniel Pink

Every great presentation tells at least one great story. Storytelling is how we connect information to the people it ultimately affects. If you aren’t telling stories in your presentations, it’s time to start including the kind of narratives that can move the audience like nothing else can. Try this time-tested format for storytelling to get you started.


“What’s in greatest demand today isn’t analysis but synthesis – seeing the big picture and, crossing boundaries, being able to combine disparate pieces into an arresting new whole.”- Daniel Pink

Symphony is one of those concepts that is a little fuzzy. Basically, it is being able to connect the dots and to help your audience connect the dots. To increase the symphony in your presentations, keep asking yourself why this information matters, why these stories are important, how these statistics relate to other patterns, and what the big picture is. And then communicate those things clearly.


“Too much [seriousness] can be bad for your career and worse for your general well-being. In the conceptual age, in work and in life, we all need to play.”- Daniel Pink

This is the one that I think presenters struggle with most. We get this feeling that presentations are such serious business, and sometimes they are. But when we focus too much on this seriousness, we tend to turn into automatons with robotic voices, strange movements, cold nonverbals, and boring presentations. What would it look like to play with your audience? To laugh with them? And how could those moments of connection benefit your presentation and your overall purpose?


“Logic alone won’t do. What will distinguish those who thrive will be their ability to understand what makes their fellow woman or man tick, to forge relationships, and to care for others.”- Daniel Pink

Great presenters excel at empathy and it drives their success. Why? Because they truly care for their audiences. They take time to step outside of their own perspective to understand and recognize the perspectives of others. This is a crucial skill in developing, designing, and delivering presentations that will resonate with diverse audiences.


“We live in a world of breathtaking material plenty that has freed hundreds of millions of people from day-to-day struggles and liberated us to pursue more significant desires: purpose, transcendence and spiritual fulfilment.”- Daniel Pink

In other words, Pink is saying that we are oriented toward and interested in things that have meaning. We want all of our work and effort to be part of something that matters. So when you deliver presentations in today’s world, you have to take time to show how your ideas, products, company, etc. contributes to some larger purpose.

How do your presentations measure up?

Can we suggest a quick evaluation? Now that you know how Pink defines each of these 6 senses of the conceptual age, take a moment to reflect on how your presentations measure up. Note your areas of strength and weakness.

  1. To what degree do my presentations incorporate great design?
  2. Do I effectively incorporate storytelling into my presentations?
  3. Do I clearly point to the symphony of ideas and patterns in my presentations?
  4. How well have I incorporated play in my presentations?
  5. To what degree do my presentations demonstrate empathy with my audience?
  6. How effectively do my presentations communicate my deeper purpose or meaning?

If you feel like your presentations are stuck in the information era, Ethos3 can help move them into the conceptual era. Find out how.

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