Preparing for a business presentation requires a lot more than simply throwing together some statistics and hoping your audience will instantly be engaged. You need to do a lot of planning if you really want to inspire attendees and motivate them to take action.
With so much pressure to engage and educate your audience, it’s no wonder that preparing to present an important project is stressful. Fortunately, there are 3 tricks of the trade you can use to make your business presentation effective. So sit back, relax, and take a look at these tips for giving a presentation that will have your audience hanging on every word.
Connect with Your Audience
Most presenters spend too much time trying to fake a relatable speaking persona, rather than actually being relatable. They try to think of the funniest joke they know or the most impressive things they’ve achieved. But your audience isn’t there to watch you perform standup comedy or hear you brag about yourself. Your presentation isn’t about you; it’s about them.
If you want to truly connect with your audience, you’ve got to scale information to fit their knowledge level. Experts can dive deeper into your topic, whereas less experienced people need simpler information so they don’t get overwhelmed. You’ll want to encourage both groups to ask questions—great presenters welcome questions because they know the value of their topic, and they want others to know it, too.
Another good strategy is to tell an interesting, relevant anecdote. Starting with a story is a great way to engage people, because they love to be entertained. Of course, you’ve got to tell the right type of story. There are 8 classic storytelling techniques you can use to reach an audience, so it’s important to pick the one that will work for your crowd.
Present Accurate Data in an Interesting Way
As soon as he was inaugurated, President Trump made headlines with claims that his audience was the largest ever to attend a presidential inauguration. Crowd size experts leapt in to prove him wrong, and a press war ignited when one of his staffers referred to the Trump team’s statements as “alternative facts.”
Trump ultimately continued on his merry way, none the worse for wear after the dispute. But we can’t all be the president of a world super power, creating our own sets of alternative facts whenever the mood strikes. When you’re giving a business presentation, you better have your facts straight. Conduct research beforehand to back up your points, and look for credible sources of information.
That said, facts and figures can be deathly boring when read them off a paper. You’ll need to present them in an interesting way if you don’t want your audience yawning throughout your speech. One option is to include charts, graphs, or other visuals in your slideshow—or roll a whiteboard onstage so there’s a physical object beside you, rather than just a screen to stare at.
Another option it to provide handouts to your attendees. When using this technique, don’t copy your slideshow verbatim; instead, include unique information and secure it inside a branded three-ring binder for a professional, put-together look. This way, your audience will have something to occupy their hands and a place to take notes, which will help them work out all the energy they would otherwise spend fidgeting.
Pique the Audience’s Interest with Visuals
Adding photos to a presentation can take surprisingly large amount of work. It’s easy to rack up a major bill buying stock photos from big sites, so people who aren’t willing to risk using an image without permission often try to save money by skipping photos altogether. While that’s certainly an option, there are plenty of cost-effective ways to access stock photos—some sites like Pexels.com even offer free, commercial use images.
Videos can also help captivate your listeners. Combining sight and sound helps increase information retention, which is a fancy way of saying that it will help people remember what your presentation was about. Want proof? Check out this breakdown of how video content is rocking the marketing world.
If you really want to spice things up, object lessons are a great strategy. Object lessons are short demonstrations that help you illustrate a point live for your audience in real time. This creates suspense that draws people into your presentation. You can bring props onstage for a DIY lesson, act out a skit with your colleagues, or call on an audience volunteer. Asking for a volunteer is ideal: it helps your audience feel like they have a stake in your speech.
Preparing for a business presentation can be stressful—but it doesn’t have to be. When you adopt these techniques for your next speech, you’ll take the stage with confidence because you will have a truly great presentation to give.