Tips for a Standout Business Presentation
Business| By Stuart Ridley | October 21, 2020
Many people are daunted by the thought of a business presentation but if you follow these practical tips, you’ll shed the fear and be ready to impress.
Whether you're pitching a business idea to a new client or unveiling a new concept to colleagues, making a business presentation can be tough. Even the most seasoned presenter can show nerves if not properly prepared. If you want to make your next public speaking event both impressive and effective, our practical tips and complete guide will help you nail your next business presentation.
Tell a Story That Connects With Your Audience
Think like your audience members. What will get people involved? What will stir their emotions? No-one wants to sit through 80 slides of graphs and charts – so think about what will engage and excite the audience, rather than reeling off a bunch of stats or facts.
It also doesn’t hurt to use the old adage employed by writers, salespeople and leaders: “Show, don't tell”. A great story that illustrates your key messages will connect far more than, say, a graph of last year’s sales figures. That’s not to say your graph isn’t important; instead, tell them how those figures came to be, what the highlights were for the sales team and maybe even share a story about one great sales success during the year. You might show the figures in PowerPoint slides but your story should communicate that your business can effectively drive sales. And that’s what will capture your audience’s attention.
Your Slide Deck Shouldn’t Be Your Script
We've all sat through those presentations. The slides are filled with text and the presenter simply reads it out word for word to the audience without making any eye contact. It’s a shortcut to boredom for the whole room and everyone ends up wondering why they had to sit through it, when they could simply have read it in their own time.
Your slide deck doesn’t need to be laden with information; instead, write bullet points of the key takeaways on each slide. A good presentation, like a good TED Talk, is detailed, but what’s on the screen shouldn’t be.
Leave the Audience With a Key Takeaway
One key business presentation tip is to keep the message simple. Most people are likely to remember three to five key points, so don’t overwhelm them. Instead, focus on making just a few memorable points. You don’t always have to share detailed information, like technical specs, budgets or a step-by-step process. Create something people can take away and absorb in their own time, after you've finished your presentation.
Get a Professional to Help With Your Presentation Design
Don’t feel as though you have to do the creative stuff alone. Most business people find it easier and more efficient to engage a design expert. The time you spend messing about with logos, images, colours, font size and layout in PowerPoint, Keynote or design software would be better spent refining your key messages and practising how you'll deliver them.
If you don't already have a brand identity, it’s a good idea to get professional logo and branding design done first. This will provide you with a handy guide for applying your logo, fonts, colour palette and other design elements consistently across all your promotional material. And you'll own the copyright for the design set and artwork so you can use them in print or digital presentations.
Also consider booking a graphic design service to create a collection of five designs to help promote your brand, with print-ready files for materials such as a business card, flyer or brochure – and ask about adapting those designs so you can use them in business presentation templates, too.
Bring Your Business Presentation to Life With Video
If YouTube has taught us anything, it’s that video is powerful. A well-crafted short video can show a range of things: from what your business does, to how something works, to how people feel about your brand. Video connects with your audience while giving you a short breather mid-presentation. As for business presentation tips for video, remember that you want your audience to connect with you more than the screen, so about a minute of footage is plenty of time.
Not sure where to start with video creation? Try a custom video option, a bespoke 60-second video created to your brief, including animation, voice over and background music, and delivered in a couple of weeks. You'll have unlimited rights to use it in presentations, on your website and at events.
Offer Visual Aids or Supporting Material
When you deliver a knockout presentation, your audience will want to know more. So be ready to give it to them and have extra material with more detail on hand, which they can take away and absorb. Try a booklet, bound document or even a bespoke magazine. If that feels a bit daunting, start instead with a marketing material design pack to capture the key points of your business story in a single design, or get a five-flyer design pack if you want to promote several products and services. You'll own full copyright on the print-ready files and it's fast and easy to get enough printed for everyone you'll meet.
If you're sharing several visual aids, it's a good idea to deliver them neatly and safely in presentation folders, or in an appealing display book, which can also hold your audience’s extra sheets and notes.
Practise Your Presentation Skills Beforehand
A surefire way to ace your presentation: know what’s in it. Sure you wrote the text and helped create all those fancy slides, but it’s a rare person who can remember all that information without revising.
If you can, leave time for at least one full run-through. And yes, it might feel foolish to sit in an empty room and belt out your presentation to no-one, but it’s the best way to iron out kinks in the delivery and be confident in your body language – something that’s important regardless of whether you're presenting in person or on Zoom. By practising your presentation skills, you’ll know how and when to command the audience to really pay attention and drive home your key messages.
Make Sure Your Audience Can See and Hear You
While a laptop is fine for sharing images with one or two people, using a projector and speakers is wise when presenting to a group of three or more. If you're likely to regularly present in places where the technology isn't available, it's worth investing in a portable projector and either some desktop speakers or a powerful wireless speaker to fill the room with clear sound.
Mark Pauses in Your Presentation Script
If you’ve been following our business presentation tips, you've had a run through of your presentation at least once before the actual day. But anxiety can undermine even the best of presenters, causing them to rush through their key points more quickly than they’d like. It’s hard for audiences to connect with your main points if they don’t have time to absorb them. An easy way to ensure you don’t rush is to clearly mark breaths and pauses in your notes. The secret to an effective presentation is to take the time to prepare stage notes in the margins; tips like “slow down” and “breathe now” can be just the reminder you need to nail the delivery.
Adapt Your Presentation for Video Calls
It can be harder to connect with an audience and read the energy of a room when you’re presenting over a digital platform so take extra steps to keep them engaged. Build in extra time at the beginning of your presentation to help build rapport and check in with your audience regularly to allow space for questions or feedback. If you’re using a presentation deck, make it as engaging as possible with vibrant imagery, external links, video and sound, and share resources people may need to refer to ahead of time digitally (email is fine; for larger files use a service such as Dropbox or WeTransfer). And remember: always take your tech for a trial run before your scheduled meeting. Enlist a colleague (or family member) to connect with you via the video link to ensure it and the platform runs smoothly, and that you know the commands for things like screen sharing, putting slides on screen and conversing via the chat window.
Funnel Your Nervous Energy Into Excitement
Nerves are nothing new and most presenters feel the rush of adrenaline before they take the stage (in fact, it can be a good thing). Arrive early to start your business presentation on the right foot. And, if you're feeling wound up or nervous, know this: telling yourself to “calm down” rarely works. Instead, flip the script and channel all that energy into enthusiasm or even excitement by telling yourself, “I'm excited!”. You'll be surprised how well it works.