In your professional career, a time will come when you have to deliver a business presentation. You may have to present to your colleagues, senior management in your company or even a venture capitalist.
But no matter who your audience is, the success of your presentation hinges on much more than your catchy PowerPoint slides. This blog will provide eight tips and strategies to ease your pre-presentation jitters and teach you how to deliver compelling, confident business presentations.
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1. Don’t Read Your Slides
The last thing anyone wants is to watch you read what they can already see. To prevent the temptation to read off the screen, don’t include everything in your presentation deck.
Put a couple of high-level points on your slides or use them to supplement your information with visuals. That way, your audience is focused on you and not distracted by the words on the screen.
2. Tell Your Story
Your presentation should take your audience on a journey. While you might not be making a business presentation about yourself, start by telling the story of why you are the one giving this presentation.
Are you introducing a new coding program to the company’s executives? Discuss how you came across this program and what you’ve done to learn about it. Are you talking to an audience about your company’s financial state? Give a quick overview of the legwork you’ve done to discover the numbers.
3. Stay on Track
To keep everyone engaged from the very beginning, establish a goal for the presentation. Once you’ve decided on a focal point, it’ll be easy to keep your presentation simple from the start, without diving into too many unnecessary tangents. And staying focused will prevent your audience from asking questions about irrelevant topics.
You’ll also be able to quickly get to the action you want the audience to take — whether that’s moving to the planning stage of a new program or directly contacting you afterward for consulting services.
4. Be Prepared
While your presentation should stay simple and to the point, you also need to be prepared should any difficult questions come up. Keep any supplemental material on hand, if possible, so you can quickly answer audience members’ inquiries or at least direct them to where they can find the answer.
When you practice your presentation, also practice answering such questions so you can have the additional information memorized without having to search through your notes.
5. Back Your Material Up
Speaking of supplemental information, you need to make sure any claims you make, or ideas that can be challenged, have data to back them up. If you don’t have proof, your audience might spend at least some of your presentation pulling out phones to check your work.
You don’t need to offer source material directly on the slide if you don’t want to. But you should at least give statistics or provide real-life examples so your audience knows your information is credible.
6. Make Thought-Provoking Statements
You're making a presentation to get your audience thinking about a subject important to you. One of the best ways to do that is to ask rhetorical questions or make thought-provoking statements that stand out.
Doing so also helps your audience think about the material the way you want them to, rather than allowing their minds to wander. As you think of questions to ask or statements to use, consider your audience members and what they might be thinking about. Are you talking to your business leaders? Consider a question like, “So how could this save money?”
7. Avoid Too Much Jargon
Business jargon can quickly get confusing, and the more obscure words you use in a presentation, the more audience members you will lose.
Speak naturally so that you sound approachable, and avoid swear words if the environment calls for it. The goal of any presentation is to communicate clearly so your audience understands you and knows what you want from them.
8. Bring Your Own Questions
While you might be prepared for questions, there’s a chance you won’t get any. And that’s okay! Come up with a few potential questions, and use your Q&A time to ease into them.
You can use your own questions to strategically achieve your goals by ensuring your questions double down on your message. And even if you do get questions from the audience, you can still use your own at the end of the Q&A.
Learn How to Give Better Business Presentations
These business presentation tips should help you get started on giving an excellent presentation to managers, outside investors or conference attendees. But sometimes you need more than a few pointers to advance your presentation skills.
New Horizons’ Center for Leadership and Development is designed to help you learn everything from management skills to emotional intelligence. To give better presentations, you can take a few business presentation courses or dive into our entire Communication & Interpersonal Track.
Here are a few courses we’d recommend to go beyond the standard business presentation tips:
Our expert-led courses are meant to help you move forward in your career with confidence and learn how to communicate better with everyone from coworkers to potential clients and partners.
Sign up for a leadership and professional development course today to see where it can take you.