Whether you are giving a presentation management, colleagues, a venture capitalist at a conference, meeting or sales demo – here are some basic tips that will help you wow your audience. These useful tips will turn your next corporate presentation from ‘good’ to ‘great’ and make you a winner.
Corporate vs. Academic Presentation: What Is The Difference?
All of us had to make presentations in university, but a presentation for business is different. Why? In most cases the goal of the business presentation is to deliver certain idea, message, sell a service or a product. This means that presentations made for corporate companies revolve around one goal or core message. Meanwhile academic presentations are created to deliver information about a certain subject.
Corporate presentations should be created with strong focus on your audience and key message, resulting in certain structural and delivery technique differences.
Our advice draws upon the extensive experience of our corporate professional presentation designers and experts, bridging together advice that cover a whole range of areas and useful tips for making a powerful business presentation.
Preparing For Your Corporate Presentation
Focusing solely on presentation design will not get your message across. Instead you should spend most of your time preparing your speech, delivery techniques and process. While well designed slides are important for your presentation, it should not be its main focus.
Plan Your Strategy & Concentrate On Core Message
Before sitting down at the computer to make your presentation, answer the following questions:
- What is the key message of your presentation?
- What do I want my audience to remember once the presentation is over?
- What action do I want them to take afterwards?
The main focus when planning the corporate presentation should always be its goal and core message. Therefore, strategically planning out your overall marketing efforts will keep you focused on the goal rather than the process itself. Regardless of how you deliver the presentation, be that in person or virtual presentation, the most important point is what effect it will have on your audience at the end.
Have a clear understanding of what you want your audience to understand, feel and do. Strategic thinking will allow you to define the mindset of your audience and deliver the presentation that supports your core message and marketing efforts.
Before you start:
Use sticky notes to define your core message, goals and effects. These will help to keep you on track with what matters most throughout the entire process.
Try to summarize the key message you want your audience to take away at the end of your presentation. Our experts recommend the ‘30 seconds’ or ‘15 words’ rule: you should be able to brief the core message within 30 seconds or summarize it in no more than 15 words.
Capture Attention & Set Goals
Face-to-face interaction with your audience is one of the most important and influential factors for spectacular presentation as it leaves the strongest and the most lasting impression. If you don’t gain the trust of your audience or fail to get their interest, no matter what facts you present to them – it will not make the difference.
Therefore, as surprising as it may seem, the very beginning of your presentation can become the ‘make-or-break’ part of it. This is the time for you to convince your audience to listen to the rest of your presentation with interest.
Remember that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is your credibility. So you have to make a special effort to establish your credibility right from the start. The fact is, you are more likely to get what you’ve come for if you have the trust of your audience. It does not mean that you have to recite a cover letter from your resume. Instead, you can simply share a short story highlighting your experience related to the main topic of your presentation or perhaps a personal experience capturing their interest and curiosity.
Set Goals Early On In The Presentation
presentation. When you share the purpose of your presentation right from the get go, your audience will perceive the rest of the information keeping that goal in mind.
This approach will make it simpler for you to get the desired action or outcome at the end. Aside from that it will keep you focused on your goal, helping you unwrap the supporting material around your core message and not the other way around.
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Knowing the topic you are going to cover in your presentation is one of the most important elements that will help you succeed. And ‘knowing’ means being able to naturally and conversationally discuss your presentation.
Most of the times questions arise during or after your presentation, and this is another important reason why you should thoroughly study the topic. Be prepared for the most difficult objections, concerns and questions that may rise during your presentation. That way you won’t be caught off guard and will always stay on track with your goal. Consider your audience, the experts that are going to be present during the presentation and the questions they might have. You should be able to speak freely about any aspects without any visual aides.
It is hard to sound confident if you are stressed. To connect with your audience, speak persuasively and make your presentation engaging you need to be relaxed and at ease. There are various techniques that will help you overcome your anxiety and let your expertise shine through.
Before you start your presentation, pick a friendly person among your audience and imagine you are speaking to a friend. Imagining yourself talking directly to someone instead of the whole room full of people will release some of your anxiety especially if you have fear of public speaking.
Memorizing your presentation may seem like the best option to keep your stress levels down. However contrary to this belief reciting a memorized text can easily derail you during a presentation. Imagine if someone interrupts you or you forget the next sentence?Instead, try to memorize certain cues for each slide that will prompt you to discuss it. Imagine that you are telling a story describing each ‘picture’. That way, if you are suddenly interrupted, lose pace or simply get nervous you can get back on track without any hesitation, as all you are doing is telling a story and will be able to easily mix and match as you go along.
Regardless of what you say during your presentation, it will make a stronger impression if you support it with some credible sources. You can present statistics, provide quotes or reference a credible research. Start your audience with some surprising facts, even if it is not the main point of your presentation and you are sure to get the attention you need.
Making Your Business Presentation: Techniques & Structure
Now that you are all clear about the delivery style of your presentation, there are other important aspects that deserve special attention. The software you use to make your presentation, the way you design it, and most importantly how you end it are all important factors to consider.
Choose The Right Software For Business Presentation
With many options available on the market today, it might be difficult for you to settle on the best software to use for your presentation. While the outcome of your presentation still depends on the content and the way you present it, making a wise decision will certainly help you succeed.
Some options are quite costly while others are free. So before you dig into the slides, make sure you do your research and choose the software that will suit your needs best. If your presentation is perhaps a team effort, you should use Google Slides: being cloud based it is easily available for real-time collaboration. Maybe you need a fun animated presentation or even a video: then Powtoon is the right tool for you. Whatever software you choose, do your research before settling on one and make an informed decision.
While there are endless possibilities when it comes to business presentation software, here we will discuss the two most widely recognized softwares for corporate use: PowerPoint and Prezi.
PowerPoint For Business Presentation
Advantages of Microsoft PowerPoint
Microsoft’s PowerPoint is one of the most popular presentation softwares available. You might have used it either in high school, university or throughout your career. PowerPoint still remains a great tool for making presentations with the most popular uses being teaching and sales.
PowerPoint software offers some animation effects, readily made layouts, designs, fonts, backgrounds and graphics making it easy to make presentation ‘from scratch’.
PowerPoint is a fairly user-friendly software, although to make a truly impressive and professional presentation you will need to dig deeper, perhaps use some add-ons and avoid overused graphics and designs.
PowerPoint slides can be easily printed or saved and are compatible with most computers as almost everyone has the software installed as part of the Microsoft Office package.
Disadvantages of Microsoft PowerPoint
While PowerPoint offers many advantages for its users, there are certain drawbacks. You have to scroll through the entire presentation to get to a certain slide. This could pose some difficulties, especially during Q&A part, when you might want to go over a certain point again.
PowerPoint does not leave a lot of room to make your presentation creative unless you possess designer background. The amount of premade layouts is very limited, while the overused clips, arts, only vertical or horizontal image uploading can make your presentation look just like the one your audience saw a week ago at another meeting.
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Using Prezi For Business Presentation
Prezi is one of the most popular alternatives to PowerPoint. Recently Prezi Classic was replaced by Prezi Next. Prezi Next uses nonlinear format for the presentations as opposed to PowerPoint linear approach. Prezi works on HTML5 browser player.
Prezi Next Advantages For Business Presentation
Prezi zooming user interface (ZUI) lets users easily jump from one point to another within the presentation. Your presentation will look like a canvas with topics and subtopics, meaning that you will not have to scroll through the entire presentation to get to a certain topic. Instead, you can simply zoom out of one topic and zoom into the next one, letting you jump from one subject to another with ease.
Prezi gives you more freedom when it comes to design options for your presentation. For instance, you can upload any photos, videos, clip arts. You can position the elements at any desired angle, reshape, resize and format any way you choose. There are various options for customizing the presentation pages.
Prezi Next presentation starts with a template and features plenty of ready-made templates for you to choose from. Moreover you have an option of viewing two screens at the same time on your computer: one with your actual presentation and the other Presenter View screen with your notes.
Prezi is a web-based software which means it can be accessed from any computer that has internet connection. Presentations can be easily embedded into any webpage or blog.
Disadvantages Of Prezi Next For Business Presentations
Prezi is a fairly user-friendly program given the amazing result you can get without any special designer training. However it is not as widely recognized as PowerPoint therefore will require you to study and gain some basic knowledge before working with Prezi.
When Prezi launched its new version Prezi Next, it received its share of criticism. For instance a lot of Prezi users note that previous Classic version allowed more room for creativity. For instance Prezi Classic starts with a blank canvas, while Prezi Next starts with premade template. Moreover Prezi Next does not give the control over the zooming movement unlike Prezi Classic. However many experts see it as a good thing as it gives more structure to the presentations and prevents all the excessive spinning and zooming.
Voiceover and music cannot be added. Prezi Classic cannot be converted to Prezi Next. However if you are tech-savvy there are various additional programs and softwares that will help you convert Prezi Next to video, add music or voice-over and convert Prezi Classic to Next.
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Use The Right Design & Formatting
When you’ve settled on the software you are going to use for your presentation, it is time to discuss the design you are going to choose. The colors, fonts, images as well as overall design will play an important role in how your audience will perceive you, your presentation and your message. You don’t need to have any prior training in graphic design to make visually appealing presentations.
Choose Colors Wisely
Before you start, settle on a standard look and color scheme that you will use throughout your entire presentation. The right color can motivate your audience and increase concentration levels. When deciding on design, background and text color ensure that the background and the text have enough contrast.
Dark background with light text will work best. However if the room where you will be presenting will be light then go for light background with dark text. Light text on dark background tends to wash out in the lighter room. Therefore if you are planning to present in a fairly light room then choose the light background with contrasting text.
Choose Fonts Correctly
Font is an important element of your presentation. Consider the topic, the template design and settle on a font that is best suited for your presentation. Just like the color scheme, you will use it consistently throughout your presentation.
Sans-Serif fonts (Arial, Calibri or Gill Sans) are easier to read on the low resolution presentation screen than Serif fonts that were designed to be used on small screens in documents. Of course it all depends on the type of the presentation screen as well as the size of the room. Whatever font you choose to use in your presentation, make sure it can be easily read from the furthest end of the room. Make sure the font corresponds with the topic you are going to present and looks professional.
The size of the font usually depends on the size of your screen in proportion to the size of the room. However 24-32 point size text will usually work fine.
Limit The Text
A lot of the times presenter feels that it is necessary to squeeze as much information into the slides as possible. However the research shows that too much text on the slide has a very negative impact on your presentation. Firstly, your audience have come to listen to what you have to say and feeling compelled to read through too many points and listen to you talk at the same time is annoying. Secondly, you want your audience to stay focused on your speech rather than your slides.
Try using at least 30/70 text to image ratio and opt for visual aides when you can, rather than words. To demonstrate your data use graphs, however avoid including unnecessary details. For instance if you are using pie charts, limit it to 4-6 slices while for vertical bar charts to show changes in quantity over time, use 4-8 bars.
Pay close attention to the images you use for your presentations. Make sure that the images are high resolution quality photography images. If possible use professional stock photography images. Low quality images will make your presentation look rather unprofessional.
Using real photographic images will help your audience get an emotional connection with your presentation as opposed to graphic or cartoon-like images. Avoid using PowerPoint Clip Art in your presentations as your audience has probably seen it many times.
Guy Kawasaki from Apple suggests an easy-to-remember rule you should try to stick to when working on your presentation. The presentation should contain no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes and the text should be not smaller than 30 point. Keep in mind though that this is just the general guideline and there can always be exceptions.
Create Good Summary, Suggest Next Steps & Set a Goal
The way you end your presentation is just as important as the way you start it. If the beginning of your presentation should encourage your audience to listen to you, the end should encourage them to act.
Call To Action
Summarize the core message of your presentation again and use it as a chance to drive your message home. Your summary should include a strong call to action and encourage your audience to act. It is your chance to get your audience to think about your presentation once it is over and discuss it later.
Call to action should be clear, spelling out exactly what outcome you expect out of this presentation. Not including a call to action can fail all your prior efforts.
Leave some time for a quick question and answer session at the end of your presentation. Use it to your advantage by demonstrating additional information you have not included in your presentation.
If nobody asks any questions you can still use this time to strategically drive the message across. For example you can say something like “You might still be wondering if…”.