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7 Steps to Creating an Effective Business Presentation

7 Steps to Creating an Effective Business Presentation

In my pre-writing life, when I was still an Enforcement Officer charged with helping the court enforce domestic relations orders, I attended a presentation put on by the State of Michigan. The opening speaker was fabulous. Not only was he able to gain my attention from the moment he first spoke, but he kept it for 45 minutes straight.

Admittedly, this guy was not delivering a business presentation as it was more of a motivational speech, but the same general rules apply. After all, isn’t a business presentation also a way to motivate your audience to do whatever it is you want them to do?

For instance, if you’re presenting to your employees, you may be sharing procedural changes that you want them to welcome with open arms or you could be sharing your future vision of your company so they help guide you in that direction. Business presentations are also often necessary to convince potential investors of the worth of your business, or to get a financial institution to extend a line of credit. Thus, they serve many purposes, which makes presenting successfully the key to taking your small business where you want it to go.

To create a solid and impactful business presentation, here are the seven steps that will help you captivate your audience and inspire them to get on board:

Step #1: Decide Your Purpose

Knowing what you intend to accomplish with your presentation is beneficial in two different ways. First, it helps you select the information and material that will guide you toward your preferred results. Second, it establishes what outcome you want to see which allows you to more accurately gauge whether or not you were effective.

So, what is it that you intend to achieve by giving your business presentation? Are you seeking employee compliance with a new office procedure, or do you want other business owners to partner with you on a joint venture? Decide this up front so you have a clearer image of what you are attempting to do.

Step #2: Set Specific Expectations

Once you know your general intent, it is time to add some detail by way of setting specific expectations. This will motivate you even more as you strive to reach your intended results, and it will help you decipher whether or not you’ve been successful.

It’s like when you set a goal, or expectation, to help your company grow. Which statement is going to motivate you more: saying that you want to bring on a couple investors sometime in the near future to help you build your company, or deciding that you need three investors who will supply $50,000 each over the course of the next twelve months?

While both may be what you want, the detail provided in the second statement is more definitive and helps you see exactly what results you expect to achieve.

Step #3: Learn About Your Audience

Just as you have to know your target market inside and out in order to effectively engage with them, the same is true when it comes to the audience that will hear and see your presentation. You need to know what motivates them, what demotivates them, what their worries are, and what concerns keep them up at night.

Learning their likes and dislikes, what drives them, and what inspires them to action helps you create a presentation that will appeal directly to them. You will be able to connect with them in a way in which they understand.

Step #4: Draft Your Presentation

Now that you’ve thought about what you want to do and who your audience is going to be, it is time to draft your presentation. Here are some pointers to make this process easier:

  • Outline the key points that you wish to address. Ideally, you want to highlight three as they will be harder to remember if there are more.
  • Come up with an introduction that gets your audience’s attention. Look for a shocking statistic, use a famous quote, or start with a funny or dramatic story as all of these options are compelling presentation openers.
  • Use language they will understand. Don’t talk over or under your audience as neither will connect the way you’d like.
  • Be careful with humor and jokes. Even the best intentioned “funny” can offend someone and cause negative consequences, so be cautious if you decide to take this route.

Step #5: Create Captivating Visuals

Oftentimes, people will remember visuals more than something they heard. Therefore, you may want to consider coming up with some sort of slideshow or graphics to enhance your presentation and make it stand out. Charts, graphs, and infographics are all options that can really make your message stick.

Step #6: Practice Your Delivery

One of the worst things you can do when preparing for a business presentation is fail to practice your delivery. Going through your presentation a couple of times will allow you to identify any problem areas or potential issues beforehand, which also gives you the opportunity to correct them without losing face with your audience.

Step #7: Present with Confidence

Finally, give your business presentation with complete and total confidence. Take a few deep breaths before you begin, stand with good posture (head up, shoulders down and back, tummy tilted in), and, most importantly, smile.

When you follow these seven steps, you will create a business presentation that your audience may just remember forever. For good reasons, that is.

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.