How to Give a Presentation and Leave Them Wanting More

As a business owner, a consultant, and a professional speaker, I’ve picked up a thing or two over the years about how to give a successful presentation. Read on to learn more about how to prepare a presentation that hits all the high notes.

Sooner or later, you’re going to come to a point when you need to speak to a crowd. You may be discussing last quarter’s numbers during a review with your team or you may be pitching a proposal to your boss or even to potential investors. No matter the situation, every presentation is important. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking Oh, this is a small group. It’s not a big deal. Think of every presentation you do, from the smallest ones in front of your team to the big ones in front of the entire company, as practice for where you want to go. And take each of them seriously. Even with all my experience, I still like to take a few moments before meetings, even ones where I feel confident and comfortable because I’ve held them a hundred times before, to plan over what I’ll say.

Sketch out the basics

Before you begin to do anything else, jot down all the key points you need to hit during your presentation. This is the skeleton of what you’ll be talking about. You don’t need to write full paragraphs or even in full sentences. We’ll fill this in later. For now, you just need to figure out what your presentation is about, what is your main objective.

Who are you speaking to?

Think about who the target audience is and what your purpose is for this presentation. You’re going to need to cater your speech to the people you’re talking to. Depending on the audience, you may need to adjust your language. Are they industry insiders? Use all the specialized lingo you want. Is it someone from a different background who may not understand all the lingo or who may need more context? You’ll have to explain things more in detail. You can’t use abbreviations or take all the shortcuts you usually do.

Think about your audience as you mentally prepare yourself for your presentation.

Gather up visuals – but be careful

Whatever visuals you have, they are there to support you. So be sure you don’t rely on them as a crutch. And never read verbatim off your slides to your audience. Slides and visuals are there to back up what you’re saying through a visual medium. Charts and bar graphs, key bullet points, brief quotes…keep it easily digestible at a glance because people are not going to have time to read huge blocks of text.

The audience needs to be able to grasp what’s on the slide while they listen to you present, and you do not want to create a competition for attention against yourself. I repeat, do not read directly off the slides. That renders the slides useless. This is a major no-no that many beginners fall into, out of lack of preparedness or nerves.

These tips should get you started. To learn more about the presentation itself, including the best tips for practicing before the big day, come back next week for part two.