I remember when I gave my first business presentation. I was in my early 20s, just around a year and a half out of college and in my first full-time job. I was confident in my skills but still had a lot to learn.
As a way to engage customers and prospects, it was decided a company mascot was a good idea. I was tasked with defending the case and getting the higher-ups to sign off on it.
After weeks of research, I opened up PowerPoint and Photoshop in order to craft some visuals that would aid in proposing the project to one of the company’s key decision makers.
The research was thorough and the presentation and execution had to be flawless; this was a big opportunity to show the company a different side of me.
To make a long story short, the presentation went off without a hitch. The project was approved and a few months later we had a mascot (that I ended up dressing up as sometimes, but that’s another story for another day). This was my first presentation of many.
Around two years later, I was tasked with taking a failing social media video campaign and bringing it to life. Prior to launching the plan to consumers, I had to present to fifty some odd employees, which I had just met, being in that new position for just a few weeks. The research was done, the PowerPoint was put together and my talking points were rehearsed; another one that went off without a hitch.
Let’s take it up a notch and revisit the first webinar I ever gave. There was a lot of deep breathing that happened in order to help calm my nerves that were all over the place. OK so fast-forward to a few webinars in, my boss decides I’m ready to do speaking gigs. I was ecstatic.
I had been asking her and wanting to do them for a while. The first few were co-presentations, then, just last year I got to give one all by myself. Since then, there has been a lot I’ve learned about mastering the art of presentation giving.
Here are a few tips on how to give a business presentation that wins over your prospects.
Do Your Homework
The better you know the subject you will be speaking about, the more confidently you can speak about it. Make sure your research is on point and you’ve double-checked your sources and facts.
Pay Attention to Design
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to put together an attractive looking presentation, but you do need to refrain from using Microsoft Word clipart, pixelated images stolen from Google, and ignoring basic design principles. Templafy, an online document management service, suggests paying attention to these four principles: contrast, alignment, proximity and space.
Speaking of space, don’t be one of those people who crams a bunch of text onto each slide. Less is more. You don’t need to put everything you are going to say on your slides, instead, use yours slides as a guide and elaborate in speaking, accordingly.
If you need a little inspiration to get you started with your slide design, Canva, a simple and free design tool that lets users create designs by dragging and dropping, offers plenty of free templates:
Open Up With Stories
Stories can be entertaining (I hope you enjoyed mine above); they sell and “activate parts in the brain so that the listener turns the story into their own idea or experience,” wrote Life Hacker. The same article also noted: keep it simple, “the simple story is more successful than the complicated one.”
People like to be inspired. It makes them feel good. Think: Steve Jobs. In my opinion, he was one of the best speakers of all time, so intelligent and so inspirational. I bet he never heard anyone snoring in his audiences! In order to be inspirational, revert back to tactic “open up with stories.” Other ways to be inspirational include:
- Find ways to connect with your audience.
- Use a thought-provoking quote or two.
- Show your enthusiasm.
Make it Interactive
Ever been to a presentation in which the presenter just talked and talked at you the whole time? Horrible isn’t it? Don’t be that person. According to Time, people generally lose concentration after eight seconds. If you want to keep your audience from falling into ‘lala land,’ you need to do something that hooks them in; one tactic is to make your presentation interactive. You could do so by including polls, asking general questions, asking trivia questions (and throwing candy at attendees who answer correctly my personal favorite), or even embracing props.
Close With a Summary and Call to Action
The last few minutes of your presentation is your time to loop back in anyone who dosed off and give them something to remember. Reiterate the key areas you focused on and entice attendees to take the next step by signing up for something or getting more information. You want your call to action to be straight to point and easy to do to take action.
Planning on trying these tactics? Be sure to connect with me on Twitter and let me know how they go.