Imagine yourself in an audience; what would you consider an impactful presentation? By what merits will you grade an address to be engaging and influential?
These questions are essential starting off points to prepare for a business or sales presentation.
Your presentation goes beyond your slides or the content you have on them. An impactful presentation also includes your manner of addressing the audience, relatability, and ability to make concrete points.
Therefore, you must balance all aspects of your preparation for a presentation if you want to be your best at work.
One of the biggest pitfalls for business professionals delivering a presentation is starting too slowly. A slow start affects the presenter and influences the audience's judgment from the get-go.
So how do you hit the ground running during a business presentation? Here are our five starting tips for nailing your next presentation.
You can’t expect your presentation to go according to plan if there never was one. So, before you even start creating your slide deck, the first thing to do is to draw up a plan.
The plan should act as an outline containing all of the main points, supporting arguments, and evidence to drive your message.
This outline will serve as your reference point as you prepare for the presentation.
A good plan starts with a loose presentation framework. Start by considering the information you want to deliver and compare it with what your audience wants to hear.
It's challenging to convince someone to listen when there’s no interest or curiosity. But it's different if you're bringing music to their ears.
What your audience wants to hear won't always be in harmony with what you need to tell them. Hence, you must find a way to make your message sound like what your audience wants to hear.
The goal is to make your message pleasant to the audience without losing the core idea you're presenting.
This process will make your slideshow creation easier and quicker. It's a framework that takes the work out of the remaining steps.
A slide deck is what you might know as PowerPoint slides. It's essentially the presentation design you use with your speech and gestures to relay your message.
Of course, how well you design your slide deck can largely determine how the presentation will go. Therefore, it’s worth considering these factors when selecting a deck style.
Your presentation's message will also determine how you'll design your deck. For example, you’ll likely want to focus more on research and financial data in a professional presentation.
You can even ensure authority by including a stamp or signature from the source of your financial information. A free digital signature software like Pandadoc will come in handy here.
On the other hand, if you’re giving a presentation as part of a team discussion, this allows for more informal slide decks that encourage brainstorming. Meanwhile, a sales pitch to customers should be more formal and display the company’s products or services more professionally.
Your audience setting entails two crucial factors:
When designing your deck, you should consider the presentation method as this influences audience engagement.
If you’re physically addressing the audience, you can use gesticulation, facial expressions, and so on to augment your message.
Be sure to consider the audience members that perform remote and hybrid work which will be attending virtually, as well as those attending in person when you make your presentation.
However, if it’s a virtual presentation using apps like Zoom, you don't have those benefits, which makes your work a little more challenging.
That said, today, there are more sophisticated frameworks for virtual presentations, such as Dialpad's enterprise video conferencing system.
In such cases, use more illustrations in your deck to explain your points and maintain a level of engagement with your audience.
It’s also worth considering the caliber of listeners in your audience. The average professional will likely present to prospective investors, customers, CEOs, and team leads.
Investors often have tight schedules, so you’ll need to be quick to the point with your presentation. Furthermore, investors often want all the information to be presented as concisely as possible, So, when preparing to pitch to them, use slides that get straight to the main points.
On the other hand, CEOs may expect you to provide exhaustive information on your ideas. Your deck may contain numerous side points to bolster your core ideas for this type of business presentation. You may also use a short video to support your presentation.
Regardless of your presentation's purpose, it should carry a bit of personality. And that'll originate from your personal brand.
For example, say you have a reputation for your sense of humor at work. Then, you can let some of it show in your deck.
Being too professional may sound unoriginal to the team lead, who already knows you as a witty individual.
You may also wish to consider printing business cards and placing them on the desk in front of the seats or even on the seats themselves if you are presenting to people who don’t know you.
You can also put a digital version of your business card on screen for those attending virtually or email it to them in advance.
Nobody wants to sit through a boring presentation. And whether you realize it or not, your audience starts grading you right from the moment you get down to business.
According to Forbes, most listeners decide if your presentation will be worth their time within the first 10 minutes you spend on stage.
Therefore, you must create the best first impression to ensure your presentation's success. The easiest way to do that is by starting with an exciting story or thought-provoking question.
For example, if your presentation is on business enterprise transformation, you may begin by asking the audience about the most transformative experience they've had in business. Or you can tell an intriguing story about how someone revamped a venture.
Then again, one main ingredient that makes many TED talks interesting is storytelling.
Whether it's a tear-jacking tale of how someone almost went bankrupt or a heartwarming narration of how they dragged the business back to life, a great story captures the audience's attention.
While storytelling is a great way to start strong, ensuring your story is relevant to your point is equally important. You must be able to briefly tie the story to the core idea of your message.
Be relatable as opposed to ground-breaking or awe-inspiring. Your story doesn’t have to be the tale of the century; it simply has to speak to your audience.
The point is to give the audience a mental foothold to establish your facts.
Early feedback tremendously influences how your presentation will pan out. And more often than not, you'll get feedback from the audience whether or not you ask for it.
For example, your audience's subtle nods, facial expressions, and body language are all feedbacks you'll subconsciously notice, and they can either encourage or throw you off your game.
It’s possible to misinterpret your audience's body language as a sign of disapproval, which may negatively affect your presentation. Instead of assuming, it's better to elicit the response you want from your audience by encouraging active participation.
You can easily achieve that by:
Driving audience engagement from the start helps you control the presentation's flow and the audience's response to some extent.
It's a good game plan to communicate your objectives for the presentation from the start. That way, you'll prepare their mind, and they'll know what to expect.
For example, you may say, "By the end of this presentation, I want you to be able to understand the fundamentals of crowdsourced user testing systems".
With such prior knowledge, the audience will likely give their attention, knowing they will be offered an answer or solution to a problem within your presentation.
On the other hand, not stating a specific goal at the beginning may have the audience thinking, "Where are they going with this?" – and that may cause them to lose interest eventually.
Getting off to the right start is the best way of ensuring your presentation also ends well. Other key takeaways for starting your business presentation include:
Building a solid foundation through comprehensive preparation is a must for any business presentation. If you plan ahead, tailor your message to your audience and engage with them, you’ll nail your next business presentation.