Business presentations can be wonderful, or horrible, experiences for both the presenter and the audience. I've been on both sides of the table for about 40 years, so I have a sense of the good, bad and ugly when it comes to pitching your ideas or your results.
- Get to the point. Don’t beat around the bush. Start strong and early.
- Structure matters. Like any story, have a beginning, middle and end. Tell them what you're going to tell them. Then expansively tell them again. Then tell them in summary what you just told them.
- Conclusive headlines. Treat each presentation - and its key sections - like a newspaper or online news. Start with a headline and then briefly explain it. Like any publication, remember: a headline is what you would conclude had you actually read the article. It is the same thing for your presentation!
- Table seating is a big deal. If there's a screen and a presentation deck, place yourself and your team closest to the screen at that end of the table. It forces your audience to watch you and your team without their attention moving away from the screen and your team at any time.
- Say what you want. If you want something out of the audience, tell them specifically what you want! Don't muddy the waters. Be clear about it.
- Redundancy can be good. A little repetition is important to signal the audience about what is most important to you and what you want them to especially remember after they leave the presentation.
- Relax. Come on, you're not going before Shark Tank when you're giving a presentation. Own your message! Be an advocate and don’t be foolishly afraid. If the audience doesn't like it, then....well...move on to whatever's next!
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