According to some sources, more than 30 million business presentations take place each day. We spend approximately 15 million person hours per day viewing presentations. This equates to a staggering $252 million a day in terms of productivity. So if we’re spending all this time and money, we want to make our presentations count right?
Here are our top 5 tips for making great business presentations:
- Be clear about the goal or objective of the presentation
If your audience knows the purpose or goal of the presentation from the start, they are more likely to relate to what you have to say to support your case. This makes it easier at the end to get the action you want, whether it’s funding, approval to proceed with an initiative, to change their minds, or simply get agreement and understanding. So tell them what you’d like eg. “The purpose of this session is to present the findings of our last employee satisfaction survey so we know how to improve our performance going forward” or “I want to make a business case to proceed with …”
- Use supporting material creatively
Nobody wants to see slide after slide of data, bullet points or graphs so find some creative ways to support your presentation. You can:
- tell a story
- provide statistics
- use metaphors
- reference research
- show pictures
- illustrate with examples
- provide quotes from well-respected figures that support your message.
This gives your topic more impact, since a strong quote, image or anecdote will stick in their minds. It also breaks up the presentation, particularly if you have no choice but to include dry material like sales graphs or figures in your business presentations.
- Ask thought-provoking or rhetorical questions
An effective way to convey information is to ask a question first instead of launching into the presentation material. This will get them thinking about the material in the context you want. For instance, you could say “You might wonder why …”; “When I started to look at this issue, I asked myself …”; or “How much longer should we …?”
Be sure to consider your audience and the things they would wonder about, and phrase your questions so you answer those things for them, while at the same time advancing your message and your goals for the presentation.
- Make it flow
A clear flow to the presentation – perhaps even with a tracking tool on each slide to follow progress – will help the audience stay focused. Make sure you structure and organise material so it builds your case rather than flicking from one topic to the next. You can structure your business presentations in a number of ways:
- POP – Problem, Options, Proposal
- STARR – Situation/Task, Actions, Results, Recommendations
- General to specific
- 5 W’s – Why, What, Who, When, Where
- Where are we now, where do we want to be, how will we get there
The old adage ‘tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em’ is a good way to emphasize your key messages.
5. Keep it simple
Remember to keep the presentation as short and sweet as possible – bite-size can still be meaty. Quality over quantity wins every time. Audiences would rather, and are more able to, digest bite-sized chunks of information.
Data, charts and diagrams demonstrate patterns and trends instantly. They’re great visual tools. Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much data though. Multiple charts, graphs and data sets on a single slide works against you.
Instead, dedicate one slide for each graph or chart for every set of data. This isn’t just easier on your audience, in terms of absorbing information, but it lets each set of data make the maximum impact. If the issue you’re presenting is complex, back up your findings in a handout or report that you can refer to but just present the salient points.
There is plenty of scientific data to back up the benefits of not overloading audiences, choosing the right colour scheme for your slides, typography etc in this article too.
Next time you make a business presentation, make it count.
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