How to deliver effective business presentations


Delivering a presentation in front of people is very scary for most of us. You are in front of the audience who may be there to criticize the contents of your presentation. What is most frightening is being tasked to deliver a presentation in front of the bosses in your company.
It is daunting to know that you probably are being scrutinized by your audience. You know that they may critique your appearance, your manner of speaking, or even your gestures.
Many people dread public speaking. But if you wish to get noticed in the office, it is imperative to amaze your boss by delivering knockout presentations. Here are tips I wish to share with you:
Before the Presentation:
Know your target audience. Will you be presenting to the top management, the middle management, or to your colleagues? This will enable you to prepare a presentation that the listeners can understand. Do not deliver any presentation that is not your expertise. Sure, you may research; however, a single unexpected question will expose your ignorance. It is embarrassing to be standing in front of an audience, not knowing what you are talking about.
Research on the contents. Prepare your presentation with utmost care. Know what must be included in your talk, and make sure all of them are incorporated. Analyze how data should be presented. You may consider using charts and graphs to stress your points. Check and double-check that the materials you gathered are accurate!
Design your presentation. If you will be using PowerPoint in your presentation, never have too many texts in one slide. Include only significant materials you wish to highlight. Avoid lengthy sentences and writing very long paragraphs. Use bulleted lists, but sparingly. Also, use only minimal yet tasteful graphics. While it is tempting to use flashy animations, make sure you do not overdo it. Use font size that your audience will be able to read; about 24 points should be the minimum for a medium sized room.
Practice a lot. Time your presentation so you would not exceed the limit. Know when to insert your punch lines. Also, practice your delivery skills. Record your presentation, and then adjust your pitch, tone and volume as necessary. You may ask a friend to see you practice your presentation so he/she can point out if you have any unusual jolts, tics or shakes.
Memorize your piece. It is boring to listen to someone who just reads his / her presentation.
Have a contingency plan. You may have a copy of your presentation with you, but you should anticipate that this might not work. Save copies in at least 2 CDs (or USB flash drives). Also have a printed copy of your presentation, so that in case your computer does not work, you may still be guided by your notes in your presentation.
Check your logistics. Make sure you have coordinated for the use of a laptop and projector if you need them. Unless you will be bringing your own laptop, make sure that your presentation will run on the laptop to be provided. Do this days before the event. Have all handouts photo copied and collated in the right order. Bring also several markers, if you plan to write on the white board.
Show your immediate boss your presentation. It is courtesy that you have your boss cross-examine your presentation. This way he / she may point out errors, or show areas which you need to improve.
During the Presentation
Dress for the presentation. Wear your best business suit. Look smart, authoritative, and respectable.
Start on time. If you are late for the presentation, some of the spectators might have gone away, while others will judge you for being unprofessional.
Mind your gestures and body language. Never slouch, or look away. Make sure you maintain eye contact with your audience. Look confident while you deliver your presentation. Stay relaxed, and be comfortable.
Avoid info overload. Even if you are an expert on the topic, and there are so many things you would want to share, make sure you only present the important ones. Your audience may not grasp everything you are saying, given the limited time.
Engage your listeners. Ask questions; else share funny anecdotes related to your presentation. Make sure your audience does not fall asleep.
End on time. Value your audience’s time by making sure you have delivered your presentation at the exact time you’re expected to be finished. As a rule, it is better to conclude your talk at least 15 minutes before the allotted schedule. This way you will still have enough time for the Q&A. It is better to answer all the questions of your audience.
Delivering an effective business presentation could be your best opportunity to shine, as there usually are bosses in attendance. Let your superiors see first-hand how competent you are. There is nothing to fear if you have done a thorough preparation. Go ahead and make a knockout presentation!

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*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.