5 Strategies for a Successful Business Presentation

Are you a bundle of nerves at the mere thought of speaking in public? Do you experience wobbly knees, sweaty palms or an upset stomach? Well, you are not alone! The fear of public speaking ranks with death and an IRS audit for most of us.

Whether participating in a live event, teleclass or webinar, with practice and planning, you can overcome your fears and develop strong presentation skills. To help, here are 5 Strategies for a successful presentation… every time!

Prepare in Advance

Preparing for a presentation requires research, organization and planning. Each is vital to the success of a presentation. How do you prepare?

Well…

  • Learn about the audience and venue. This will enable you to make adjustments to meet their needs and prepare enough material such as; handouts, business cards brochures and giveaways. Knowing the facility’s size and layout is equally important.
  • Practice your presentation and fine tune as needed. Rehearse using a video recorder or ask a friend or family member to critique you.
  • Keep the content simple and comprehensible… and avoid using jargon!
  • Be a good keeper of time. Make sure you are not under or over the time allotted.

Day of:

  • Make sure you have some water at your table or podium. Nothing worse than having ‘dry mouth’ during a presentation!
  • If you’re using equipment such as a laptop, a projector, microphone or smart board, ALWAYS check to make sure everything is working properly.

Body Language

Your body language is critical in the message it conveys to an audience. Confidence will reflect in your posture. Make it a point to stand tall; with shoulders aligned properly. In addition, remember to use proper hand gestures.

Eye Contact

This is an easy way to build rapport with your audience. As you move through your presentation, you’ll make a greater impact when delivering key points by glancing at someone each time. As you move onto another point, shift your glance to the next person. This approach captures each person and engages them in your conversation.

Know Your Audience

Do you know your audience’s demographics? If not, you should! For example, my presentations are targeted towards women entrepreneurs. Since the length of time in business varies, I will customize each to fit their needs. 3 tips to better engage your audience:

  1. Have a powerful opening and closing. Start your presentation with an ice breaker, an engaging story or thought provoking question. Close with a call to action – what should they do as a result of your presentation? This is also a great way to gain prospective clients.
  2. Create an interactive atmosphere. Ask open-ended questions to encourage participation and share experiences.
  3. End on a note that will send people away with something to remember.

Ask for Feedback

Provide your audience with an evaluation form to fill out. Allow anonymity to encourage open and honest answers. Use their responses to improve the quality of your presentation.

In conclusion, if you want a successful outcome, it is important to take the proper time and steps to prepare for your presentation!

Be Conscious in the Present Moment

The more conscious you are in the present moment, the better you will be at making the right choices. When you are truly present, you will sense and feel what is right for you right now. Life is one long ‘now’, so it makes perfect sense to direct all one’s energy into the present moment. Many people have their focus placed way too far out into the future. Of course, it is necessary to look into the future now and then, just as long as it doesn’t become a habitual state of mind. Personally, I have set myself 4-5 goals, wishes or aims for the future, but I am very conscious about working on these goals in the present moment. I enjoy thinking about these goals a couple of times during the day, and I think about the pleasure I experience by just being on my way towards them and sense the energy that they will bring me. When I feel the energy these accomplished aims will bring me, the joy of the journey is doubled. I also attract these dreams more quickly when I understand how important it is to feel the energy and joy that lies inherent within them.

The less conscious you are in the moment the more you will make “wrong” choices. If you are not directing your attention to the moment then you won’t be aware of your feelings here and now. A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, and each step has a particular meaning for you. With each step along the way, you will learn about, feel and notice the nature of your life, building your identity and life experiences upon this. If you consider your steps insignificant, then your life will be insignificant.

If you make wrong choices, you will find yourself out on one of life’s small detours. Perhaps no choice is really wrong, for even a wrong choice will serve the important purpose of showing you what you don’t want in your life. Some people choose to make many, many small detours. They walk on and on until it hurts so much, they just have to turn around. Others live their entire lives in pain – oblivious to the possibility of making new choices. In their minds there exists only one possibility, only one choice. The good news is, that you will be offered thousands of chances in this life. In the arising of every new moment, you have the possibility to choose something new. If you experience, time after time, that your life has gone off course, then it is time to stop and reflect on what you can do differently in this very moment.

When Technology Doesn’t Matter – Presentations That Speak to Business

The room is full of business people in “business casual” dress. It’s the IT department turn to present and they are ready. The PowerPoint is revved up. The projector has been focused. They’ve practiced extensively over the past week, refining their message, practicing with their slides: they are thoroughly prepared for this moment. IT is eager to explain how the newest technology will contribute to the overall success of the organization.

Thirty minutes later, the presentation is over, the PowerPoint’s finished and the business people in the room are frustrated and annoyed. The IT staff is wondering what just happened. Their brilliantly detailed and highly accurate PowerPoint presentation was interrupted by questions unrelated to the technology. The help desk department wanted to know how the new technology would improve call-processing time. The accounting department wanted to know how the technology would work with the general ledger system. The sales organization didn’t understand why the change was even needed. After all, the sales force knew the old system and they didn’t see anything wrong with it. What started as hopeful and creative ended with heartache and confusion. What went wrong?

Presentation Basics: Know Your Audience

The IT department in the story above didn’t understand their audience. Do you?

As you lead your organization, you intellectually know that IT does not exist for the sake of IT. IT exists to support the larger organization in making money. But do your presentations show it?

The best IT presenters know the members of the audience, if not individually, then in general terms. They know what it is the different departments care about and how those concerns relate to IT. They know the case of new technology how any changes to the status quo will improve the condition of those other departments and address their concerns. The smart IT department builds the presentation around the needs of the company to make more money or cut costs – not on whether or not the IT staff gets to use the latest and greatest technology. The best IT presentations reflect that fact.

Getting to Know Your Audience

The best way to get to know what the audience for your presentation cares about is to ask them. Interview representatives from the different departments that will attend your presentation. Ask them what their focus is, what their concerns are, and their knowledge on the subject of your presentation. Understand what their issues are, both from a technology and a business perspective. What do they care about and how does it relate to technology. If you can’t answer the questions of how what you have planned from a technology perspective will help them out, then don’t present until you figure it out. Every audience member wants to know what’s in it for them. Find out what’s in it for your audience and give provide for their needs during the presentation.

Eliminate the Boring

No one likes to be bored. But the definition of boring is in the eye of the beholder. New technology is exciting for IT professionals, but boring for everyone else. What’s exciting to people is what interests and benefits them. While you may have brilliant material and in-depth understanding of the new technology, those outside of IT really don’t care. Don’t bore them with the technical details. Save that material for a presentation to your staff. For the business side, excite them with what the new technology can do for them. Help them see how the new technology will make them look good with increased revenues or decreased costs. Your audience will never tire of hearing of they ways you can help them look good.

Be Compelling

Often in business presentations, we fail to take advantage of some of the strongest tools to enhance our message. These tools include stories, analogies, and emotional appeals. Paint a picture of improved call processing through a story. Explain the newest technologies by relating it to everyday examples that the business departments can relate to then draw a comparison that helps them understand the benefits to them. Appeal to the larger human emotions that connect people to one another: a sense of belonging, pride, humor, the greater good. Link what your business does for your customers to a bigger human condition that makes a difference. The wireless phone company that can call grandparents from the delivery room to say, “It’s a girl!” The car company whose seat belt saved a mother’s life. The insurance payout that saved a family’s house after a young father’s death. Stories of success and appeals to the emotions tie our audience to us and to our message. Look for ways to add humanity to the message you deliver.

Presentations don’t have to be painful. With attention to the audience’s needs, eliminating unnecessary technological explanations and adding the human element to presentations we can prevent annoyance on the part of the business and bewilderment on part of IT. After all sometimes, technology doesn’t matter.