Many people hate making presentations for a reason. You have to define your presentation style, put together captivating slides, handle unexpected questions, get your point across very clearly, and try to squeeze a laugh out of the audience.
It can be overwhelming for any person.
However, most of us have to make business presentations every now and then, especially salespeople. Whether you’re a sales rep who tops the leaderboard every month or a seasoned speaker who headlines at conferences, you can always improve your presentations and deliver your message more clearly.
There are lots of tips on business presentations out there, so we've collected the very best that will make a big difference to your presentations.
Here's how to go about creating a great business presentation.
Tip 1: Create an Outline
If you want things to go according to plan, you have to create a plan in the first place. Come up with an outline that covers the main points you would like to get across. This outline will serve as your anchor and help you to build a slide deck. It will also help you to know the key arguments you need to touch on.
First, start with the bare bones. Write the introductory remarks, then the three main points you would like your audience to remember from your presentation, and then the concluding remarks. A well-delivered introduction and conclusion are crucial parts of a presentation. You shouldn't overlook them when writing your outline.
To create the body of your presentation, add sub-points to each of the three main points. These sub-points will be helpful later when you're putting together your slides. You'll be able to see how much material you have for each takeaway and split the content into the right number of slides.
When you create an outline before you start creating the slides, you have confidence from the get-go that you'll come up with material that will stick in people’s minds.
Tip 2: Write the Way You Speak
Before you start typing away, let's talk about tone. Some people think that a business presentation should look like a college essay. But if you want to win over customers, you have to write like you speak. Picture yourself having a conversation with a friend. The words would flow freely and you would use very few fancy words.
When making a presentation, your goal is not to sound smart, it is to be clear. Aim for a conversational tone that is well-thought-out. Write like you speak when you speak at your best.
The words you use in the presentation should sound like they are coming from you. If you use a lot of contractions when speaking (like can't, won't, wouldn't), write your presentation that way. If you never use adverbs, omit them.
While we’re usually unaware of our verbal habits, the people who know us are aware of them. After creating the presentation, ask a close friend or spouse if it sounds like you.
When writing the first draft of your presentation, aim for simplicity. Don't pay attention to eloquence as it doesn't have to look great the first time. Turn off your inner editor and just write.
Tip 3: Start with a Compelling Story and Inject Some Humor
There is one reason TED talks are so popular. Every presenter starts with a captivating story—whether it is a heartwarming story about their daughter's first day of school or a heart-rending story about a near-death experience.
A great story captures the attention of your audience and allows you to build a personal connection with them. It acts as an unforgettable cornerstone of the presentation. After sharing the story, connect it to the main point of your presentation.
You don't have to tell a story that is unique or groundbreaking. In fact, the most effective stories are those your audience can relate to. People relate to stories emotionally and remember them long after they're told.
The success of your presentation will be determined by your ability to deliver information in a way that is compelling. Stories make you, the speaker, appear more approachable and they also make facts more digestible. If you want customers to remember your business presentation, reach into your bag of stories and bring the presentation to life.
Making people laugh can also be a powerful tool for success. Research has shown that if you can make people laugh, they will lower their defences and will see you as a competent and confident leader. They will also be more likely to pay attention to the serious things you have to say. Inject humour into your presentations using personal anecdotes or analogies.
Tip 4: Use Multimedia
You can give the best advice in the world, but in order for people to believe it, they need to see it in practice. Multimedia can help you capture the attention of your audience and maintain it. You may not know it, but humans process images quicker than text.
If you only use words and numbers in your slides, you may cause people to squint their eyes as they try to read them. Some may try to scribble down as much information as they can before you move to the next slide. Include images and charts in your slides, not just text and tables. Make sure the attention stays on you, the expert, by adding an image or two to drive your point home.
Another multimedia format you can use is audio. Play some background music to keep your audience glued to your presentation. A simple Google search can yield free high-quality instrumental music you can use in your presentations. You can also use the music to create a welcoming atmosphere before you start your presentation and afterwards.
I'd recommend including at least one video in the presentation as videos are valuable visual content that keep audiences engaged. The demand for video content is always increasing. Most marketers use videos because they are an effective marketing tool: A video can help you explain a concept in a way that images and written words can't.
Tip 5: Avoid Writing Errors
These are the four most common writing mistakes people make when creating slides:
- Grammatical mistakes
- Improper capitalization
- Mixing up homophones
- Incorrect punctuation
Seeing these errors in your presentation will lead customers to question your credibility. If you're pitching to them, they may think you are not thorough in your work and that you didn't put a lot of effort into your presentation. Or they may think you don't know how to write properly. The response you get from them may not be what you had in mind.
Writing errors dilute your message and have a negative impact on what you're trying to achieve. When creating slides for your presentation, you can use a digital writing tool like ProWritingAid to improve your grammar. It is more advanced than your average spellchecker and will tell you how readable (and therefore memorable!) your slides are.
Tip 6: Less Is More
SlideShare, a hosting service for professional content, is popular for a reason. It displays information in a clear presentation format, ensuring people don’t go elsewhere to find it.
When you're delivering a presentation, one of the reasons people come to see it is because they care about the topic. But there's also another reason. They are curious about the person giving the presentation.
When giving a business presentation to an audience in person, it's important to keep your slides simple. This ensures that people focus on you and your message and not on the slides themselves. Make sure the slides cover the topic well but are also simple enough so that people can pay attention to what you're saying. And like we said before, support your message with visuals.
One way you can keep things simple is by reducing the amount of text in the slides. If you want people to remember the information you give, add an image to every slide. When information is paired with images, people recall it better.
Many high-level executives, even Google's CEO Sundar Pichai, avoid a lot of text in their presentations. At Google I/O 2017, he said that text-heavy slides are avoided at Google for the very reasons outlined above.
Start Winning Over Customers with Your Business Presentations
A business presentation gives you an opportunity to inform, persuade, demonstrate, and sell your ideas to an audience. If the purpose of your presentation is to win new business, it should be clear and focused. Nothing feels as bad as spending a lot of time on a presentation only for it to fail. A bad presentation can damage your brand.
Make sure that you know your audience and the topic you're discussing well, and ensure that your presentation grabs attention, follows a logical order, and flows with clarity. It should identify problems, explain the solutions, and create a sense of urgency in order for people to act. Explain why "right now" is the best time for them to take the action you want them to take.
Now that you know what you need to create a great business presentation, check out our 7 mistakes to avoid next time you present!