10 Tips to Mastering your Next Business Presentation

A successful business presentation is much more than just slides!

To make your business presentation engaging and effective takes practice. What really makes a good business presentation stand out boils down to two main things: engaging your audience and knowing your material. However, if you follow a few more tips, you will be all set to conquer the world – or, at least the audience in the room!

Here are 10 great tips for your next business presentation.

Being Believable from the Start (to the End!)

The fact is that your audience is more likely to listen to what you have to say and be engaged in your business presentation if they know you are credible.

It is not about a long introduction with your career achievements or the awards you have won. Instead, start your presentation by creating a sense of sincerity before you give them information. You can use a short story about your background related to the topic or share an experience that connects to the presentation.

When you create a credible opening and get the attention from the audience, they will be engaged in your presentation and will listen intently. Work on your introduction so that the remaining part of your business presentation comes easily.

Include your Goal at the Beginning

Like any storybook that has a synopsis or a movie with a trailer, your business presentation should include a goal so that your audience will have a rough idea what it is all about. This is best done in the introduction of your presentation.

If your audience is aware of the purpose or goal of the presentation at the start, they are more likely to keep that goal in mind throughout your entire presentation.

Including your goals or objective at the beginning of your business presentation not only benefits the audience, but yourself as well as it will help you to focus on that goal rather than straying from the main purpose.

Use Factual Content and Material

Another tip to master for your next business presentation is to do the research and provide the right data or materials. After you have established your credibility, you also need to know what you plan to say during your presentation.

Take note that ‘winging it’ is never a good option, especially when it comes to a business presentation. Thus, always do the right research and do it meticulously.

Once you have the facts and data that support your presentation, you can prepare the material in your presentation slides. Accompany the supported information with graphs, charts and even photos. Combining all of them will add variety and keep your audience interested and engaged in your presentation.

You should also avoid the following on your slides:

  • Having text only slides as these are too much work for your audience to digest
  • Having an excessive number of slides (anticipate spending 2-5 minutes per slide)
  • Using quirky slide transitions and animations as these become distracting very quickly
  • Using patterned or textured backgrounds as these reduce readability of your text

Begin a New Idea with Powerful Quotations or Images

If you want more impact in your business presentation, start each new idea or topic with a great quote or a striking photograph.

This gives your presentation more impact since a strong quote or photo will linger in the audience’s minds as they listen to the related material.

Photo: Horia Varlan, Flickr
Photo: Horia Varlan, Flickr

Cover All the Bases

Often, we tend to wonder if we have covered all our bases and whether we’ve missed anything out in our presentation. Try asking yourself the ‘5 Wives and 1 Husband’ or 5 Ws and 1 H which are:

Who: Who are you talking to?

What: What is it you want to say?

Where: Where is this going to be said?

When: When is this going to be said?

Why: Why is this going to be said?

How: How is this going to be said?

Do this every time and you will have answers to most questions in your business presentation.

Practise and Rehearse

Remember that creating your presentation at the last minute is never a good idea because it does not allow you time to practise and rehearse. Practising your presentation allows you to pick out errors, and mentally review what you are going to say and how you want the flow of your presentation to work.

Rehearse your presentation by standing and delivering it as if it was for real and if possible, rehearse in front of family and friends. This is the most effective way to check your words, your visuals and whether the message is as clear as you want it to be.

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Make Amazing Statements

Another tip to master for your next business presentation is by making amazing or memorable statements then repeat them throughout your presentation (think “I have a dream …”). Sometimes the best way to get attention about the information you are presenting is to make surprising, controversial or memorable statements.

It’s like watching a movie and one of the characters in the film makes a remark or says something that you remember months or even years later because it was catchy, powerful or meaningful. Making an amazing statement helps you reinforce the key takeaways from your business presentation.

Be Prepared for Difficult Questions

There may be a Q and A session at the end of your presentation. These questions may even come up during your presentation, unless you ask the audience to wait until the end.

Think ahead and be prepared for what you anticipate will be the most difficult ones.

Consider all the disagreements the audience might have or questions they may raise about your points and information. Anticipating difficult questions is one of the tips to master for your next business presentation.

Have Your Own Questions Ready in Case Nobody Asks One

Even though you have prepared answers for the tough questions that you have anticipated, you can also address specific questions that you want them to know about.  Have these ready on your cue cards or give them to your chairperson.

Start with something like:

“I usually get asked…”
“One thing some of you might still be wondering about is …”

When you address these questions, they will be aware that you have done a thorough research and are knowledgeable on your topic.

Photo: Derek Bridges, Flickr
Photo: Derek Bridges, Flickr

Finish with a Flourish

You started your business presentation with a great impact, but that does not mean you can take a chill pill. Finish off your business presentation with a great ending and tie this in with your opening where relevant. For example, you could finish off the presentation with a quote from someone famous or a statement that relates back to your opening.

Similar to an encore or a curtain call in a performance, you should try to include a short closing after the Q and A session. This is a good time to summarise your business presentation and drive home your main messages.

In Summary

Remember, a good business presentation contains only the necessary information. It has one main point and everything is structured around that point. Try not to rely heavily on slides filled with text and always allow time to for questions from the audience.

All the best with your next business presentation!

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