How do you give a great business presentation that inspires, persuades and wins your audience over to your ideas, product or services? The following are our top 10 tips to help you to ace your next presentation!
1. Know your audience
It sounds obvious, but each presentation should be tailored to who you’re talking to. Is the presentation for customers interested in your products or services or is it aimed at potential investors in your company? Maybe you want to ‘sell’ the benefits of a new company strategy to staff. Having a clear understanding of who your audience is, will inform your presentation and make it more effective.
2. Know your message
This follows on from the point above, but you should be crystal clear about what message you want to get across in your presentation; if there’s more than one key message, try and prioritise them. You won’t sound convincing unless you’re clear and confident about what it is you want to present.
3. Support your message
Back up your message with facts. This can be in the form of data, images, survey results, testimonials, and personal experiences. A presentation that’s a series of bold statements and claims just won’t cut it, whereas facts help to show rather than tell and will engage the audience on a deeper level.
4. Curate your content
You may have some great slides, infographics and charts available to support your presentation, but don’t be tempted to try and use them all. Make sure you only use what is relevant to your message and the audience you’re presenting to. In fact, when it comes to presentations, less is usually more and it’s better to leave the audience with one or two questions unanswered (you can address these when you invite questions later) than overload them with information, no matter how slick and well presented.
5. Quality not quantity
Whatever material you decide to use in your presentation, be sure it is of the highest possible quality. Images should be high-res, sharp and striking. Charts and other data should be clear, easy to see and understand. Replace any dated slides or photographs with contemporary ones. You may have to commission a professional photographer or graphic designer for this, but the expense will be worth it.
6. Presentation tools
No matter how talented a speaker you are and how much great material you have at your disposal, you need the right platform and technology to deliver an effective presentation. Potential investors won’t be impressed by a projector that’s seen better days or with software that takes ages to load. Research the market to see what’s available but whether you decide to use an iPad or a modern projector, just make sure you’re comfortable with how everything works first!
7. Time your message
You know your audience, what you want to say, and you have the supporting material to back it up – great! So, how long is your presentation exactly? If you’ve been assigned a specific slot you may already be limited to 10 minutes, but even if you aren’t you should know how long your presentation lasts. Be sure to tell the audience how long it is so they know what to expect – and then stick to your word! The last thing you want is people glancing at their watches signalling you’ve overrun, or that they’re losing interest in what you have to say!
8. Structure your message
Think of your presentation as a simple story told in time with a narrative arc that has a beginning, middle and end. Curating your material and timing your presentation will help with designing a structure. So, start by saying what your premise, problem or promise is (beginning) before supporting your claims in greater detail (middle), and finish with a solid conclusion (end), making sure each step is explicit and clearly set out.
9. Appeal to the emotions
We all like to be moved and are driven by our feelings as well as by our thoughts. Depending on the subject of your presentation, it may be easy to appeal to the audience’s sense of desire, empathy, curiosity or justice, but regardless of your topic, try and connect with the audience on an emotional level. Make them laugh or cry if you can. Tell a joke by all means, just keep it short – and clean! Simply showing how excited or convinced you are about your product, idea or the future of your company can connect with an audience on an emotional level.
10. Practice makes perfect
Once you’ve collated your material, know what you want to get across and how you’ll do it, it’s time to put in some practice. Unless you’re a natural or a born performer – and even if you are – try out your presentation on colleagues, friends, or in front of a mirror first. After rehearsing your presentation a few times, you’ll start to relax and feel more confident.