What makes a business presentation successful?
Communication is one of the most powerful weapons in your professional arsenal. Communication can come in many different forms, from professional writing to networking conversations. In its simplest form, a business presentation is simply the opportunity to communicate your ideas to an audience. Whether you are presenting to a potential client, a keynote audience, or an existing client, it is important to be able to deliver a message clearly, succinctly, and effectively.
Most of us have sat through a bad presentation—from one that is way too long to one that has cringe-worthy slides. The messages may have been important, but they were most likely lost or diluted due to poor delivery. Presentations affect your professional reputation, so the ability to effectively communicate ideas is vital to the strength of your business
How to deliver a great business presentation
1. Preparing your presentation
Approach your presentation from a storytelling perspective. Stories are a powerful communication tool that engage your audience and create a memorable experience. Spend time brainstorming and thinking about your objectives and what you want from your audience.
Once you are ready, begin developing your presentation according to these guidelines:
- Attention-grabbing opener: Develop a strong opening that grabs the attention of your audience.
- Focus on 3-4 key points: Studies on memory and information processing demonstrate that we only remember 3-4 things at a time.
- Remember your audience’s need: As you develop your content, it is imperative to keep the focus on your audience.
- Summarize: When wrapping up your presentation, logically tie back to the points you made in your introduction.
2. Designing your presentation
A poorly designed presentation dilutes your message. Slide presentations that are overly animated or have too much text will distract your audience from the key points. Consider these five rules of thumb:
- Text and typography: When it comes to text in your presentation, less is more. Put key points on your slides and elaborate verbally.
- Length: How long should your presentation be? Presenters differ in their approach. The 20-20 rule suggests that you have 20 slides each lasting exactly 20 seconds.
- Visual Elements: Visual slides are powerful and will help tell your story in a visual way that you can detail verbally.
- Templates: If you are using slides, presentation templates can be helpful in the design phase.
- Colors: Colors evoke emotion and can support the tone and message of your presentation. Consider matching colors to align with your business brand.
3. Delivering your presentation
When watching a presidential debate or high-profile awards ceremony, one can see the many differences in presentational styles. There are many elements to a successful presentation, and your body language and voice are key storytelling tools.
- Manage your presentational voice: Your voice plays an important role in your presentation. Project your voice so that your audience can hear you.
- Eye contact is essential: Whether you are presenting live or virtually, use your eyes to engage your audience and maintain consistent eye contact when speaking with someone.
- Pause if you need to: There may be times when you will be at a loss for words. Relax; it happens to even the most practiced presenters. Rather than saying “um” or “ah,” take a breath. You may have a bottle of water next to you, and taking a sip can give you a few seconds to collect your thoughts.
- Be available for follow-up questions: After the presentation, you may have the opportunity to meet with some of the audience members or extend the online meeting to take questions. This time is also important to promote your business, and can be used to network and form relationships.
With these expert tips, you will approach your next presentation with confidence and have the skills and resources to successfully reach your audience.
To learn more about how to give a great business presentation, download our guide and access our sample presentation outline.
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