- Great Business Presentations
- Business Presentations Designs
- Presentation Tips
- Business Presentation Mistakes
Business presentations can be one of your best tools to land a new client. You do not want to have to deal with a client who does not know enough about your business or is not able to relate to you. Using a business presentation can give your clients images, graphs, and text that will be able to tell them why they should pick your company.
The first thing that you need to do in order to have a killer business presentation is to be neat. Having an organized presentation can be one of the best tools that you use. People like clean, easy to read slides that will help them get the information that they need out of the presentation. Even though the economy has gone down the tubes, you do not have to compromise on the quality of your business presentation. The second step that you need to make sure you do in your presentation is to include an easy to read title slide. Your title slide will allow your clients to learn your name, business name and have a good first impression of your business. A title slide should not include any flashy graphics other than your business logo.
The next step in your business presentation is to prepare your client for your pitch. In this step, give them a few succinct slides that provide your client with the basic information about your business. Give them a picture, and a few short bullets to provide this information. As in any other presentation, do not print sentences on your slides! Sentences belong on handouts, not on the screen. After you have convinced your client that your business is legitimate and is a good choice for them, it is time to move on.
The final, and most important step of the entire presentation is to sell your product or service to your clients. Think of any possible questions that they could ask you and give them the answer to it. Also, near the end of the presentation give them a sample price or the actual price of your service or product. Do not sugar coat your product, as many clients will decide that you are trying to swindle them. Simply speak the truth about your product and its abilities in order to make a great sale. Now it is time to end your presentation. In order to do this, sum up everything that you have said in one slide and ask the client if they have any questions.
Selling your product or service through a business presentation does not have to be difficult or boring. You can make the process very interactive through a variety of presentation styles. Presentations can be displayed in many different colors and styles. However, make sure that your presentation makes sense with your product. You want to be as clear as possible and give your clients every reason to make a deal with your company. Business presentations do not have to become less fun because of the economy, in fact, now is the time to really ramp up your presentation!
Delivering a business presentation is an event that most people find utterly terrifying. A business presentation, however, is just another business skill, combining specific technical aspects with behavioral practice.
There are three distinct components to making an effective presentation:
- Designing a high-powered presentation
- Using PowerPoint properly to support your presentation
- Delivering the presentation effectively
This article, the first of three, will outline how to design a high-powered business presentation. It will identify a number of strategic considerations, in addition to highlighting some organizing and sequencing suggestions.
The Starting Point
When preparing a business presentation, what elements need to be considered?
The first questions that you need to address are:
- what is the Purpose of this business presentation
- what Action do you want people to take as a result of the presentation
Although these questions seems relatively straight-forward, most often they either are overlooked or it is assumed that "we all know the answers".
In fact, accurately articulating the answers to these questions at the outset of designing your presentation is vital to constructing a business presentation that will be effective, as well as delivering meaningful results.
It's Only For Information
Generally, people answer the first question with "It's Only For Information". In a business context, however, everyone is far too busy to attend a presentation just for information. A business presentation needs to provide value to the audience.
In the business environment, every presentation needs to be understood as an opportunity to:
- - Educate
- - Create alignment
- - Develop commitment
- - Secure resources
From this, we can conclude that the Purpose of the presentation is to persuade the audience to engage in supporting your initiative, with the desired Action being the allocating of human, financial and other resources to achieve its end.
Obviously, this is a fundamentally different and more intricate objective than the view that "It's Only For Information".
Internal Competition For Resources
Every organization experiences significant ongoing constraint on its available resources. Legitimate demands for more resources far exceed the organization's ability to satisfy all those requests.
The organization ideally will allocate its finite resources in a manner which maximizes strategic priorities. Other business units or particular initiatives, therefore, effectively are your competition for these resources.
Given this backdrop, delivering a presentation is a focused opportunity to stand apart from the internal competition and promote your imperatives, while demonstrating how this will contribute to the organization's success.
The strength of a business presentation depends on the degree to which it is strategically positioned.
- Does it concisely link to the business priorities?
- Does it deliver on improved customer service, reduced costs, etc.?
- Does it collaboratively support other business units or initiatives?
- Does it reduce organizational pain and increase employee engagement?
- Does it address emerging dynamics and opportunities?
Remember, you're looking for support and resources in a highly competitive environment. Your goal is to build the audience's understanding about your activities, so that they enthusiastically will endorse your resource requirements.
The audience is comprised of a variety of people with different roles and varying power. You need to be very thoughtful about:
- Who are the decision makers?
- Who are the influencers?
- Who are your potential allies?
- Who are those that might perceive you as competition or a threat?
The presentation needs to be crafted to appeal and connect sequentially with each of these groups. Their current level of understanding, as well as their educational and business needs, most often will be quite distinct. This unevenness requires your careful consideration.
Be Selective And Precise
Think of presentations you've attended. Has your attention ever strayed and, if so, at what point in the presentation? The sad truth is that we've all endured presentations which were too long and crammed with an overload of information.
Your goal is to connect with the audience, keep their attention, nurture their enthusiasm, and secure their commitment. Avoid sabotaging yourself - keep the presentation short, concise and focused.
You are the expert regarding your business. You are intimate with a vast array of information, substantially more than the audience wants to know or can absorb. Your presentation should deliver education, not just reams of information.
You will need to be selective and precise, by filtering and organizing only those important highlights which will be most meaningful to the audience.
What They Need To Know
It has been shown that your presentation time is limited and precious, therefore, be judicious. Determine what your audience already knows. You might choose to remind them of this, but you don't need to dedicate valuable time to details.
What are the gaps in their understanding and which is the most effective way of educating them to close those gaps? Articulate the most critical elements first.
Position your presentation to demonstrate a compelling argument that delivers on a blend of positive outcomes from strategic priorities to financial success to alignment with other operations. Highlight the benefits of supporting your initiative and the consequences of declining such support.
Your presentation should begin with a short description of what you are about to present. This eliminates the situation where your audience is side-tracked during the presentation, trying to figure out your intent. Then deliver your presentation. Conclude the presentation with a short summary of what you just presented.
Good News First
You want to get the audience on-side as quickly as possible. Start with good news. For example: "Our recent project was delivered on time and under cost. There were, however, a number of major obstacles that we needed to overcome. I would like to share those insights with you, as well as the lessons learned."
This is a more effective approach than beginning with a litany of problems that were encountered and only sharing the good news at the end of the presentation. As soon as the audience hears the good news, they will be relieved and encouraged, and likely will be more attentive throughout the entire presentation.
You will need to time out your presentation. Always aim for something less than the total time that has been allotted. The most accurate way to time out the presentation is by practicing it and making the necessary adjustments.
By combining these design strategies with suggestions from the companion articles on how to use PowerPoint properly and how to deliver a presentation effectively, you will become much more confident and competent in delivering high-powered and effective business presentations.
Suppose you forget what you have to say? Suppose your prompter, if you have one, fails to inform you at the right moment? Suppose you fall sick on the D-Day? Suppose someone questions you and you can't answer the question? Oh God! What a nightmare if you've been appointed to conduct the next office presentation. How can you get over those heebie-jeebies, those butterflies in your stomach right before a presentation? Do you require any presentation tips? Is there anyone to help you when you're up there on the podium alone? Or is everyone in the audience simply glaring at you wondering when you'll make your first faux pas, your first blunder?
Hey, don't be so negative - that's the first of the many presentation tips that are there to prop you up on stage just as you begin to crumble. ALWAYS THINK POSITIVELY.
Never be nervous and never show your nervousness. Tall order? Not at all. If you've practiced your presentation in front of a mirror at home many times before the actual day of your presentation, you'll not feel nervous at all. That's the second of the presentation tips: rehearse your presentation several times before you actually deliver it.
Record your presentation. This will help you to detect flaws in your presentation so that you can correct them, well in advance.
Don't leave your presentation for the last moment. When you're a seasoned presenter, you needn't prepare at all for a presentation, you can deliver what you have to, impromptu, extempore. But when you're a beginner, it's essential that you work on your presentation several days in advance. This gives you time to practice your presentation and to identify where you're going wrong. Once you know where you're going wrong, you'll be able to rectify yourself so that you make no gaffes during the actual presentation.
It's advisable that you learn what you have to say, by heart. It doesn't look nice in public if you're reading from papers. Now, you must know that even if you memorize your presentation, you might not be able to rattle it off, the way you've planned. This is because, while you're presenting, members of the audience may stop you to ask questions or ask you to explain certain things better. Don't consider these pauses as interruptions. These are part and parcel of your presentation. This fourth of the presentation tips says that if you find that you're being allowed to present smoothly and without any breaks, it's probably because you sound like a school kid who's reciting a long poem by heart. This is not good for your presentation. It's not right if your spectators know that you're doing something by rote. Your presentation will fall flat as soon as they perceive this. You'll have to know your presentation like the back of your palm but you'll have to pretend that you're delivering it on the spur of the moment so that it looks and sounds natural. Tough job, but it comes with practice. As you become an expert presenter, you'll find that you're really delivering presentations at short notices, almost on the spur of the moment. You'll get the flair required for presenting and the hang of presentations as you become an experienced presenter. But to get to that stage, it's important that you keep on at it. Don't shy away from presentations. Then you'll never get accustomed to presenting. Remember, Demosthenes and Mark Antony also slipped at first before they came to be hailed as the smartest orators on Earth.
Prepare for questions, well ahead before you actually face them. Every presenter has to face questions. It's also a fact that some members of the audience intentionally ask confusing and hard questions just to embarrass the presenter. Such people are generally rivals of the presenter who don't want the presenter to succeed in their presentation. If you're conducting a sales presentation where several of your competitors, who are also vying, like you, to get chosen by the client, are part of your audience, presenters from rival companies may deliberately ask irrelevant or difficult questions, just to catch you, off-guard. So, it's imperative that you arm yourself with enough ammo to fire back when the audience starts aiming salvos at you.
What the fifth of the presentation tips says is that you need to prepare yourself thoroughly with possible questions and answers so that no one can catch you unprepared. If you think that you've waved goodbye to your books long ago, think again. Open them after dusting them, if necessary, and slog hard. Also, ask your team members and seniors about the questions that you may be asked and ask them the right answers to the questions too. This is one of the toughest presentation tips as this tip insists that you do your homework thoroughly. Being slapdash with your academic as well as your practical preparation will get you nowhere. Another thing - don't expect your seniors to supply you with questions while you sit back and relax. You must take the initiative of approaching them and asking them. Only then will you get the answers.
Give handouts to all the members of the audience. The handouts must be a summary of your presentation but should be enough to remind readers of all that you said. It's mandatory that you distribute handouts. Of course, none of the audience can force you to give them handouts but they expect handouts from you. It's the only way they can remember and refer to your presentation, a few days after it's over. Your name, official designation and contact numbers should be clearly printed on the handouts so that they can remember you better and get in touch with you, if necessary. However, if you're a seasoned and well-known presenter, the audience will automatically remember you but you must still mention your name and designation on the handouts. Handouts are a must for presentations.
Do a bit of acting. Now don't get scared. You don't have to be like Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Russell Crowe or Johnny Depp. You don't have to be an Oscar nominee to conduct a presentation. All you have to do is to 'act natural'. You should be absolutely free while presenting. It's absolutely fine if you say, 'Hey, so where were we?' It doesn't mean that you've forgotten where you were and are asking your spectators to guide you back to the right path. It only means that you're 'acting naturally' and showing that you're cool and not a bit anxious about your presentation.
Initially, in your first few presentations, you might be tense and taut and get irritated if members of the audience digress, but you'll find that as you're becoming a veteran in presenting, you're welcoming digressions and encouraging the lighter side of presentations. Little quips; examples that evoke stories and incidents; stories and incidents that are related to the topic you're discussing; jokes, riddles and wisecracks; personal experiences; and parable-like tales that are part of the digression actually help to make your presentation more interesting than ever. They help you to be remembered as a great presenter and your presentation to be remembered as a truly enlightening presentation. Of course, it's your duty to steer your presentation back to its course, if it has deviated too far from the actual topic. But when you're steering your presentation back to its right path, don't sound like a captain or commander, steer with ease, dignity and grace so that the audience are glad to come back.
Display appropriate body language. Your body language shows who you are, how confident and capable you are and reveals your personality just as an open diary reveals all hidden secrets. So, don't walk hunched, always have eye contact, don't slump in your seat when there's a break, don't yawn, don't bite your nails, and don't look stunned at an unexpected question. Most importantly, think positive so that you feel positive. Think that you'll win and you'll really win. Don't get peeved if members of the audience taunt you. Ignore them at first, and if they keep jeering you, tell them to get out. Never hesitate to demonstrate your powers as a presenter, if the situation demands it. Remember, if you're a fresher in the business of presenting, and you've prepared well, nothing should daunt you. And if you're an old warhorse where presentations are concerned, you'll know the type of audience whom you'll have to face, so it shouldn't be a problem.
Eat a balanced diet. Stop gorging on junk food a week before your presentation. Don't go out in the cold or in the rains unless you have experience of conducting presentations with panache despite a running nose and a searing headache. However, don't be too cocksure. If you carried off your last presentation with eclat in spite of partying the whole night before and feeling groggy, you might not be able to pull it off a second time. So, the ninth of the presentation tips asks you to take care of your health before a presentation. Don't worry. There's always time to celebrate after a successful presentation.
Are poor presentations costing you business?
The ability to deliver a presentation to potential investors or clients is an essential skill for any budding entrepreneur, sales professional or consultant.
Whether it's a '15-second elevator pitch' or a more extensive presentation, winning over and persuading audiences is vital in today's competitive capital raising and sales environment.
Learning the art of making powerful and persuasive presentations in any business situation and you will win more work.
My premise is every start-up entrepreneur, seasoned business operator or consultant can win more business by being a better presenter.
Here are the Seven Deadly Sins of Business Presentations and How to Avoid Them.
1. Not Having a Clear Goal.
It is essential to know what the objective or end outcome of your presentation is. Is it to raise funds, educate and inform, build relationships, to sell or build credibility?
2. No Structure.
This is an absolute must for any presenter - at the very least have a beginning, middle and end. You may be the best presenter in the world with outstanding delivery skills but poor structure will lead to a poor presentation.
3. Not Connecting with Your Audience.
Building empathy and rapport with your audience is critical. Connect with them on three levels - head, heart and hip-pocket.
4. A Poor Beginning.
First impressions always matter. If you have to raise $8 million in 8 minutes, make every word count. I learnt this tip from attending Patricia Fripp's speaking school recently and I think its brilliant. For business presentations she says avoid using 'Thanks, its great to be here' as your opener. She rightly points out you've just wasted 10 seconds. At a million dollars a minute that equates to nearly $167,000!
5. Too Much Content.
The cardinal sin of all business and technical presenters. In my media career, I estimate I have attended more than 300 conferences, events and seminars. That's 1500 hours worth of presentations I've had to sit through and the most common mistake I've seen is presenters rush and overload the audience with too much content. Remember, presentations rely on the spoken word and the visual - use the written word and a handout to provide more detail.
6. The Presenter's 'I's' Are Too Close Together.
We all like to talk about ourselves. As a radio manager, I spent hours listening to and providing feedback to broadcasters. Those that really connected with their audience talked with them rather than at them. I observed they used the word 'you' a lot more than the word 'I'. This led to the saying that with some presenters their 'I's' were too close together! Here's another great tip I learnt from Fripp. Record your presentation and have it transcribed. Every time you see the word 'I', cross it out and replace it with 'you'. She calls this working on your 'I-You Ratio'.
7. Poor Closer.
Again it is beginning and the end that is the most important part of any presentation. With your closer - what is the key message or action you want the audience to take away with them as they walk out the door? In business presentations the closer is often the 'call to action'. When I heard Bill Clinton speak at a Fundraising event for sick children, his closer was 'I want you to help'. Simple, direct and effective.
Here's another tip I learnt from Fripp. If you want to take questions, take them before your closer, because ending on question time is a poor and weak way to end a presentation. Worse still, you are unlikely to be able to control the last question. Take questions for a set period before the end, wrap that section up and then end with a strong closer. I've already tried this on several audiences and it works a treat!