If there is one thing that all of those who speak in front of an audience should thrive at, that is getting the public’s attention. No matter if you present a marketing campaign, a demo for a product or speak at a conference, your speech should be able to engage people and keep their attention throughout the entire time you are speaking.
When it comes to the business environment, you need to remember that a presentation can sometimes be the thing that makes or breaks your career. If you manage to sell your story well, it can get your company new investors, or be the one thing that secures your promotion. If you don’t succeed, it can cost your company money, time and even opportunities. Follow the tips below to make sure you will turn your business presentation into a success.
Develop a story
The first thing you need to do, in order to make a successful presentation, is to start developing a story. What is it that you want your presentation to tell? Facts and statistics matter too, otherwise it would just be a tale, but in order to establish a connection with the audience, you need to engage them.
Start by thinking about the purpose of the presentation. Do you need to pitch a new product? Are you looking to get funding for a project? Then, continue by constructing a story that will show the importance of this new project. Will it bring something that the company needs? Will it attract new clients? If yes, then how? Construct the presentation in a way that will engage the audience both emotionally and mentally.
If possible, try beginning your presentation with an actual anecdote or story that will get the listeners’ attention and help you build a more personal connection with them. Pick a story that is relevant to your presentation and shows how you got to this idea. If you manage to also get a laugh from the audience, then your success is almost guaranteed.
Focus on three main points
After the introduction, try to keep the content of your presentation around three main ideas. Those will be the ideas you want your listeners to remember when they come out of the meeting. The human brain, no matter how trained it is, will not be able to remember all seven points of a long presentation, because the attention span nowadays is short, so it is better if you manage to divide everything into three main sections.
Ideally, you should structure the presentation into 5 parts: introduction, the three main points that represent the core of the presentation, and the conclusion. When developing the body of the presentation, take the three main ideas and try to come up with a phrase, no longer than 3 words, for each one of them. Even if the audience will not remember the entire discussion, they will keep in mind those main ideas. Then, incorporate them once in the introduction and once in the conclusion.
Forget about PowerPoint
Nobody likes PowerPoint presentations anymore. Rarely can a PowerPoint presentation look anything other than dull and stock. This does not mean you should not have your speech backed up by a slideshow, but instead of using the old and outdated PowerPoint, try a different slideshow maker. Look for one that allows you to incorporate all sorts of visual content to your presentation, such as photos, animated graphics or videos.
When you want to emphasize an idea, it’s not enough to just add bullet points. Instead, try changing the font or color, to draw attention towards a certain word or phrase. At the same time, remember not to include too much text in the presentation. Instead, focus on infographics or images. They will stick to the viewer much more and they can incorporate even more information than a slide of text would.
Limit the number of slides to about one slide per minute, so you don’t have to change the slides too often and distract the audience’s attention. Keep a simple layout, but don’t hesitate to use bold fonts and colors, or other elements that draw attention towards your main ideas.
Don’t forget about facts
To sell your idea, you want to tell a good story, but that does not mean you should leave facts behind. Incorporate statistics, numbers, or anything that will back up your words. The audience needs to see you have done your research and the whole project is not just a story that you came up with one day while you were stuck in traffic.
Ideally, a presentation should sit right in the middle of an academic paper and a good story. You should be able to paint an idea, to emphasize on the emotion of the listeners, but also come up with real data that proves your ideas. This way, your presentation will not only appeal to the audience, but also be credible and show real solutions to the problems your company is dealing with.
For example, let’s say you have to redesign the company’s website, and your three major points are user experience, brand value and speed of the website. You can present some statistics that show how important those elements are for the users, and also how the redesign will fit into the overall story of the brand.
Do your homework
Ideally, every presentation should end with a few minutes of Q&A, where you can clear the air and clarify some of the aspects that might not have been understood. This is why you should know your presentation very well. You should be able to answer all of the answers that may come up, to prove you know what you are talking about.
This does not mean you need to memorize the entire speech, but rather know the content of the presentation and speak freely, as well as alter the presentation if needed and answer every question the audience might have. After you have finished putting everything together, take some time to go over the presentation and figure out what questions you might be getting. Don’t include information that you are not entirely sure of, as you might get caught on the wrong foot and damage the entire work.