From a technical perspective, business presentations have come a long way in recent years. Overhead projectors and transparency slides have given way to powerful new programs that allow us to share presentations online with hundreds or even thousands of people simultaneously.
Technological wizardry, however, does not ensure a successful presentation. Here are five tips to delivering an effective, memorable business presentation.
Consider Your Audience
Before preparing your presentation, consider exactly who your audience will be and what they are interested in learning. A famous sales adage states “people want holes, not drills.” In other words, people care far more about the end result — the hole created by the drill — than they do about the tool that produces it.
Does your presentation deliver information your audience truly cares about? To you, the technical specifications for your newest product may be extremely interesting. But to your audience, it may sound like so much white noise that they will eventually tune out.
Personalize Your Presentation
Don’t make your presentation into a “data dump.” Everyone enjoys a good story and persuasive speakers are typically also great storytellers. Instead of focusing on charts and graphs filled with lifeless data, tell a story full or real world examples that they can relate to.
Avoid Using Jargon and “Catch Phrases”
Many business people mistakenly believe their business jargon is widely understood by those outside their industry. By incorporating esoteric terms and phrases in their presentations, they run the risk of totally losing their audience or sounding pretentious.
Another pitfall that many business people fall into is the use of catch phrases and clichés in their presentations. Using such “throw away” language can make you appear unimaginative and disingenuous.
A picture truly is worth a thousand words so use images to your advantage. The right picture can speak volumes and research has shown that people typically remember approximately 10 percent of what they hear. If what they hear is associated with an image, however, their retention rate climbs to around 65 percent.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Regardless of whether you’re pitching a product in a prospect’s office or presenting the annual budget before thousands of shareholders, you need to be intimately familiar with your material in order to sound credible. That familiarity can only be gained by repeatedly rehearsing your presentation.
If possible, rehearse before a trusted friend or colleague and ask them to critique your presentation to ensure you’re “ready for prime time.”