Thanks to our very own Bridget Beirne, we learned not long ago what NOT to do in a presentation. But how about some presentation ideas to set yours apart from the rest? Basically, a good business presentation can be distilled down to one overarching goal: to create a human connection with your audience, impacting them as you desire. Check out our presentation ideas below that you can implement now to take your presentation to the next level.
1. Own your space. When you are giving a business presentation, no matter who is in the audience, you are the leader of that room. So take every opportunity to make it your own. Check it out beforehand if you can. Is there an awkward set-up? Change it if you’re able: move chairs, push tables to the side, move your lectern. Any physical barriers that remove you from your audience are best cleared away, if possible. Take the time to practice your tech and AV too. That way you can be smooth and confident
2. Be your own editor. If you can’t engage your audience and keep things concise, you will die a slow, painful, presentation death. Remember the 75% rule — only prepare content for 75% of your time allowed. This leaves ample time for a healthy Q&A, a strong conclusion, and worst-case scenario, an early finish. Presenting with slides? Make sure YOU are the star of your presentation, NOT your slides. Implement the Rule of 6: no more than 6 bullet points per slide, 6 words per bullet, no more than 6 word slides in a row, and no more than 6 seconds to read. If you need to make more facts, figures, and technical details available to your audience, make a second version of your slide deck that you can post or email out if requested.
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3. Rehearse! For most of us, presentation skills are not part of our muscle memory. They are not like riding a bike: if you haven’t practiced them in a while, they will not just magically appear when you get in front of your audience. In the time leading up to your presentation, practice — out loud, preferably in front of a trusted audience (your partner, friend, colleague), or videotape yourself and watch the playback so you can see where you need to focus.
4. Prep for Q&A: Even though a Q&A is essentially impromptu speaking, you can prepare yourself. You may want to pre-handle the most common questions you anticipate by building them into your presentation; something to the effect of “I’m sure many of you are wondering why…”, or “When I looked at this data myself, I immediately thought…”. Anticipate difficult questions, and craft your responses. It’s also a good idea to have a few pre-planned questions to answer, in case all you get are crickets chirping after you open the floor to questions.
5. Put your conclusion after the Q&A. Too often, I watch potentially stellar presentations crumble as the Q&A ends, the clock has run-out, and the audience starts filing out of the auditorium. Don’t let your audience’s last impression be you shouting “Thanks so much — email me if you have any questions!” to the back of people’s heads and over the din of conversation as they exit. Make sure you allow yourself even just 5 minutes to close your Q&A and make a strong conclusion for your presentation. A first impression is of utmost importance, but a strong conclusion is just as vital.
Put these tips into practice the next time you’re asked to present. Your end result will most likely be leaps and bounds better than anything you’ve done previously.