4 Powerful Presentation Strategies for Growing Your Business

If you want a plant to grow, you would never just stick a seed into the dirt and hope for the best. Plants also need water, sunlight—maybe even a bit of conversation if you’re feeling quirky.

It’s the same with creating presentations for your business. You can’t just focus on one single thing, ignoring the big picture, and expect the company to grow.

Delivering a presentation is one of the most essential and fundamental methods of cultivating your business. But there’s more to creating a great business presentation than just including all of your most persuasive statistics and testimonials.

If you really want to attract clients, you have to consider every single aspect of the presentation—both on the screen and off.

With that in mind, here are 4 simple presentation tips you can use to help your business flourish to its full potential.

1. Consider Your Audienceknow your audience

Before you even begin writing your presentation, go over any relevant prospect data or market research about your audience that you have access to. Who are they, and why specifically might they use your product or service? Be sure to tailor your presentation specifically for them.

For instance, if your company specializes in cookware and you were presenting to a group of restaurant owners, they would most likely want to hear about how your products can be best used in a restaurant’s kitchen.

You wouldn’t present those products in the same way to an organization of outdoor enthusiasts; they’d be more interested in how the cookware could be used on a camping trip.

Trim your presentation down to the elements that will be most relevant to the people you’re speaking to. This way, you’ll get higher engagement and it’ll be much easier to ask for a sale or action.

2. Don’t Skimp on Visual Design

visual design

Seeing people use the same old PowerPoint themes over and over is enough to make me cringe. A premade template is a fine place to start, but if you want your slides to stand out, you have to add your own personal touches to make them fresh and original. Imagine going into a venture capitalist meeting with your investor pitch deck wholly made from a default template.

Pick out a color scheme that complements your brand; a few contrasting colors are usually pleasing to the eye. Use plenty of white space so that your slides won’t appear cluttered and difficult to digest.

There are a couple of ways to quickly get your presentation looking great:

a) Using Photos

A good photograph can go a long way; don’t rely too much on text. When you’re looking for photos, try to stay away from ones featuring subjects who are obviously posed in an unnatural way; these can make your presentation feel cheesy and artificial. Not sure where to look? Check out our compilation of 33 free stock photo sites for your next presentation.

b) Using non-default fonts

We’ve all been to presentations where Arial, Times New Roman and Comic Sans (blech) make their constant appearances. If allowed at your workplace, why not try some non-default fonts? Head over to fontsquirrel.com  where you’ll find commercially available non-default fonts that you can use for your next presentation without any legal consequence!

Picking a couple of fonts that stand out for headings will give your presentations that extra pizazz as well as help it stand out in a sea of sameness if you’re at a conference presenting along with other speakers.

Be sure to check out our other quick and simple tips for making a presentation look professional, even if you’re a beginner at design. If you need more assistance, our presentation design experts are happy to help.

3. Have Printed Materials on Hand

printed binder

Sometimes audiences engage better with information if they have something tangible they can hold in their hands. Printed handouts are an excellent way to capitalize on this, especially when you’re explaining a particularly complicated subject.

One tactic is to have a printed copy of your digital presentation that audience members can take home with them. This acts as a lasting reminder of your business (especially if you use binders custom printed with your logo) and gives prospects a visual aid that will help them explain your concepts to others later. You won’t necessarily want to include every single slide; it’s not like you’ll be there to

You won’t necessarily want to include every single slide; it’s not like you’ll be there to explain them after the presentation is over. Adapt your presentation into a format that your audience can easily comprehend on their own. A great way to do this is to create your own handouts that don’t necessarily repeat what’s on the slide, but instead adds depth and elaboration on the pointers that you make within your presentation.

Alternatively, you could create binders full of materials that supplement your points and hand them out before the presentation starts for corporate settings. Just be careful with this strategy; you don’t want people looking down at a binder when they should be focused on you and your words. Don’t overload the recipient with text; stick to simple visual aids that reinforce the things you’re saying.

4. Don’t Just Talk, Listen

listen to audience

The worst thing you can do in a presentation is read off your slides word-for-word without ever actually engaging with your audience. The most effective presentations aren’t lectures where you simply dictate information—they’re conversations where you tell your audience a story and respond directly to their questions and concerns.

This doesn’t mean you should tolerate audience members constantly interrupting you with irrelevant comments, or force them to hold off all of their questions until you’re finished speaking.

Even better, consider asking them questions as part of your presentation. Their answers might give you better insight into the direction your presentation should go and you’ll be able to engage with them on a deeper level.

Rather than just talking at them, you’ll be talking with them.

Keep these 4 handy strategies in mind, and your next business presentation will be a hit!

Do you have more tips for creating a solid presentation that will attract business? Let us know in the comments below!

Make Your Data Storytelling Come to Life In Your Presentation

Have you ever sat through a presentation where the data just looks so.. dull? Or overwhelming? Don’t worry, we can relate.

Don’t get us wrong. Data is wonderful, and plays a key role in our decision making – especially in business. But, it can get a little boring sometimes. Furthermore, we tend to tune out after 10 minutes of listening, where it becomes easier to focus on anything except the presentation.

So, now that you’re the one conducting a business presentation, why not avoid giving your audience the same misery you’ve experienced?

Here’s the thing. As presenters, we often make the assumption that the more content crammed into slides the better. After all, more information does show that you’re more knowledgeable about what you’re sharing, right?

Not really.

In fact, when you first begin creating your presentation slides, one tip is to start by thinking of a headline that summarises your content succinctly. Think of it as a ‘Twitter-friendly headline’ as Carmine Gallo would say. This helps you focus on your key message so you can decide on which relevant information to include.

Data such as statistics and facts are fixed, but should not be rigid. If you have not decided on whether the information should be placed on your slides, ask yourself: What is your motive in presenting the data to the audience? If it’s just for the sake of showing, would it not be better placed in an appendix or word report?

The purpose of a presentation is to convince the audience to buy into what you’re selling, be it an idea, product or goal. That means it’s not just about using facts and figures – it’s also about appealing to their emotional side and gaining their trust. You need to craft a persuasive presentation

Here’s where data storytelling comes in.

The Art of Data Storytelling 

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“Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.” –Stephen Few 

Data storytelling is visualising data effectively. But despite so, it needs to be more than just creating visually appealing charts or graphs. It needs to be able to communicate the message across via the data presented. Basically, it all boils down to a combination of these three elements: data, visuals and storytelling.

When your story is coupled with data, it helps to explain to your audience what’s happening in the data and highlight the important points.

It helps enlighten the audience to insights that they wouldn’t see without charts or graphs. Visuals ensure that the data attracts the audience’s eyes to look at it – to be interested by it.

If you can combine these three elements together, you’ll definitely make your data come back to life.

Below is a video of Hans Rosling who is able to blend data and storytelling beautifully, so much that it can captivate anyone seeing him present:

Now you know how a good data storytelling is executed, learn how to prepare one as well. Here are our 3 proven tips that help boost your data storytelling:

1. Make It About Them

It is easy to talk about statistics. ’34% of children between the age of 7 to 9 in Singapore suffer from myopia’. ’13.3% of Singaporeans are smokers’. However, these are merely figures to the audience.

For example, if you’re sharing about myopia to a group of parents, ‘34%’ sounds rather insignificant, doesn’t it?

Charts.001 e1491538818277

Here’s where the problem lies. The percentage of children suffering from myopia seems small, and using a pie chart gives the impression that the probability of it happening to their child is low. In the end, the figure you’ve shown is easily dismissed and forgotten.

Business presentations, especially those that you seek to convince with, are often filled with so much information that the audience becomes accustomed to it. Numbers lack the emotional impact that gets them to think, ‘okay, I need to pay attention because it concerns me’. So if you want to make an impression, you have to make it personal.

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Start by amplifying the meaning behind your numbers. The beauty of data is that you can represent it in various ways to form different perspectives and opinions.

In this example, you can make it personal by asking the audience to look to their left and right. Tell them that amongst themselves and the two people beside them, one will have to tackle this problem with his or her child. Now the perspective has shifted. Instead of dismissing it as a low probability statistic, people now see themselves in the position, and they immediately realize the urgency to address the issue.

2. Get Your Audience to Fill Someone Else’s Shoes

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it” – Harper Lee author of the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’,

In many situations, we frequently emphasise the need to empathise and presentations are no different.

Your audience is generally eager to see you succeed. Unfortunately, they have short attention spans and will eventually start to drift off. To make things interesting, and increase their understanding of what you’re saying, giving them the opportunity to see things from another perspective.

Example

Here’s the first example: Let’s say you’re delivering a sales presentation on HR software.

“After making the switch to our HR Software,  55% of these existing users have a 120% jump in productivity”

Sounds alright. You heard the benefits loud and clear. But… you don’t see the need to do anything about it right? There is no motivation to make you do so.

Now take a look at this example:

“John is a HR Manager who used Program X. He feels so frustrated with the system as it caused him problems with managing his staff, tabulating salaries, and other issues that added on to his workload rather than reducing it. Then he made the swap to our HR system. Instantly, his burden was lightened. Salaries became easier to calculate, employee holidays were easier to manage and John no longer has to worry about the system breaking down. 55% of other users like John found a 120% jump in productivity”

Do you feel inclined to do the same as John? That is the power of storytelling. Its main goal is to get your audience to feel the pain of maintaining the status quo, and envision the positive results if they go with your suggestion. It makes the character relatable to them. Makes the audience understand why the problem is a problem and how the solution can help them.

There are many storytelling techniques that help connect the audience to your message. ‘The Hero’s Journey Approach’ and ‘Mystery Storytelling’ are the most simple yet high effective techniques many speakers use to create an impactful presentation.

3. Simplify Not Intensify

Charts are fantastic, they demonstrate what we want to say without using dozens of words that clutter the slides. With a quick addition of a few bars and lines, we remove the need to explain the numbers individually.

But what happens when your charts get too complicated? You’re back to square one. Charts are intended to help the audience visualise data. But when ‘data-dumping’ occurs, your audience is once again faced with the task of digesting the information in the short span of time when you show the slide.

As we’ve said earlier, data is fixed but not rigid. You may not be able to change the figures, but you can change the way it is presented.

Let’s assume you’re sharing a comparison set of statistics between two companies.

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Start by asking yourself, what is the intention of presenting these figures? Is it to show an increase or decrease on a certain month? Is it to show the difference?

Once you’ve figured out the purpose, remove all the unnecessary data. You can leave them in the appendix if needed, but since you’re not going to talk about it in your presentation, eliminate it.

The next step is to ask yourself what your audience requires to understand the chart. Are the guidelines needed? Do they serve a purpose, or will eliminating them make it look clearer? Is it necessary to label every single point on the axis?

Based on that, we can remove unnecessary lines and details, to keep the chart simple.

Charts.001 edted by Eugene e1491552917420

Once you’ve removed the lines, you can add labels to the key points that the audience should focus on.

Wrapping It Up

Remember, this isn’t school work, where the reader has to see every single step you are doing. These people whom you’re presenting to need the easiest way possible to understand what you are trying to say in the shortest amount of time.

Data is integral in showing why the audience should trust your presentation or you. The beauty of your data should be shown visually as well.  Remember to keep these three tips in mind when working on your data, and have fun!

Closing the Gaps: 3 Ways to Ace Your Business Presentation

Talking is easy, but presenting? Not so much. Regardless of whether it’s a business presentation, an internal discussion or a meeting with a potential client, we all face the same challenge – Persuading the listener to achieve the desired outcome.

Here’s a scenario, you’re trying to sell your company’s services to a prospect that has shown interest. You feel you’ve hit all the right notes in your presentation, but they still are not biting. What’s going on exactly?

Try thinking of presentations as a journey, where you need to bring the audience to the goal. Of course, there will be obstacles getting in their way, like gaps that prevent them from crossing over, and it’s your job to bridge those gaps.

In most presentations, these gaps can be sorted into three categories – Knowledge (how they think), Feelings (how they feel), and Capabilities (how they do). When you recognize the gaps, you can then identify relevant and impactful solutions that will help them ‘get over the hurdle’ to improve your chances of obtaining their approval.

Knowledge Gap

As a presenter, you probably have an in-depth knowledge of your topic. In a business context, you’ll have information such as the history of the company, the products it’s selling, and the benefits. However, when it comes to sharing with an audience, not all that data is necessary.

A common misconception many presenters have is that the more data you put on your slides, the better it will be. After all, having more data should make you sound more credible, right? Not exactly. In fact, unnecessary data may serve as a distraction from your core message(s) instead. With so much to process, your audience will have a tougher time focusing on the key points of your presentation, which are overshadowed by non-essential information.

By identifying the gaps in the audience’s knowledge, you can then prioritize the content to put in your presentation, and remove those that are irrelevant or unnecessary. This is a fundamental part of your presentation that sets the stage for the rest of the ‘gap-fillers’. You need your audience to believe that your idea is necessary and that they need it.

What you can do: Ask yourself three important questions.

  1. What is the audience’s current perception / thinking / knowledge that I want to change?
  2. What should they be thinking after my presentation?
  3. What information should I give to help them move from A to B?

Take an internal business presentation for example. You’re looking to convince your management to upgrade the office computers.

What could they be thinking right now? You can take a guess, that they believe an upgrade would be unnecessary or too costly.

What would you like them to think after your presentation? You’d want them to leave feeling like the upgrade would be worth the cost, and it is a necessity for the team’s productivity.

Now that you’ve answered both questions, you can decide on the information that is relevant, such as the cost breakdown, the benefits of upgrading, and other details that are essential in persuading your audience.

Feelings Gap

Facts and data help your audience understand what you’re sharing, but it is not sufficient. More often than not, the most successful business presentations rely on appealing to the audience’s emotions by making it relatable to them.

An example would be the winner of the World Championship of Public Speaking, Darren Tay (who coincidentally is also from Singapore). In his speech, he uses a pair of briefs to illustrate the shame caused by childhood bullying, before throwing them aside to emphasise that we do not need to live with it.

To bridge the emotional gap, you need to create an image as a motif as well as a story for your audience. Clarity is essential here, and they’re more likely to remember what you say if you are able to stimulate their imagination. Scientists agree that using imagery and visuals help increase recall.

These are techniques not meant just to entertain, but to build common ground and trust. Your audience or prospect might be in a situation where he/she is aware that they need what you have, but they might not want to work with you.

What you can do: A common way to reach out to your audience is to share something personal, such as anecdotes and analogies. Dozens of articles have been written on how to create powerful beginnings and endings, with devices to evoke an emotional response being one of the frequently suggested ways.

For example, if you were sharing about a program, talk about how it can be so frustrating dealing with manual work, and how big a relief it would be if your audience had the software to deal with it. You can even use an analogy, calling it ‘the Panadol to their headache’ (it’s cheesy, but you get the idea).

Capabilities Gap

So, you pulled out all the stops during the presentation. You chose the right information, you had a visually impactful presentation, and you created a compelling story to appeal to your audience’s emotions. What’s next?

There are times where the audience has bought into your idea, but they’re not able to make it work. Let this sink in… They need it, they want it but they are physically unable to take action. In most scenarios, you may encounter either or both of these problems:

  1. Your audience is not the main decision maker.
  2. Your audience does not have the resources to do it.

To ensure that your presentation is a success, you need to figure out the problems that they’re facing, and offer solutions to counter their objections.

What you can do: Increase the ease of execution for your audience by reducing or removing the barriers.

If your audience is not the one in-charge, ask for a follow up with the decision maker. Even if you do not get a face-to-face meeting, a phone call or email is better than nothing. If you can’t contact them, provide a tool kit (such as a credentials deck, a detailed document, etc) for your audience to pitch on your behalf.

When your audience lacks the resources to accomplish the desired outcome, you can provide alternatives to solve the problem. If your business presentation is about a product, and they have a low budget, can you offer alternatives? Are you able to scale back by reducing the price and features proportionally?

Make your audience’s experience a smoother one by helping them eliminate the barriers they face in moving towards your common goal. This includes outlining the path of action that they’ll have to take.

There’s no easy way out when it comes to a business presentation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do well at it. The first step to success is always to understand your audience, and it starts by identifying what your audience needs to reach the same goal as you, be it knowledge, envisioning the possibilities, or easy execution of ideas.

How to End Your Presentation With Style

“I’ve come to the end of my presentation. Any questions?” you ask, hoping to hear a response from your audience. Unfortunately, you get nothing but an awkward silence.You think you pulled off a pretty great presentation, but then find yourself falling flat at the end. In this article, we endeavor to de-mystify how to end a presentation with style.

Let’s face the truth. Unless you present like Steve Jobs, the likelihood of an audience remembering your public speaking performance from start to end is extremely low. But this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to make a lasting impression. Studies have shown that when an audience is given a series of information, they have a tendency to remember the first and last items best. So use this to your advantage, and make an impact with your closing statement. Not only will you create a memorable moment, but your audience will also have an easier time retaining the message you’re trying to bring across.

We’ll show you 5 proven ways on how to end your presentation.

1. Inspire Your Audience with a Quote

Quotes are one of the most commonly used methods and with good reason. It has been a tried-and-tested way to reach out to your audience and connect with them on a deeper level. But here’s the thing: You need to figure out what resonates with them, and choose one that fits the presentation theme. If you’re up to it, you can round off the quote with your own thoughts as well.

For a great example, take a look at Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, ‘How to escape education’s death valley’. When he was concluding his presentation, he used Benjamin Franklin’s quote:

There are three sorts of people in the world: Those who are immovable, people who don’t get it, or don’t want to do anything about it; there are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it; and there are people who move, people who make things happen.

However, instead of ending it there, he then continued, “And if we can encourage more people, that will be a movement. And if the movement is strong enough, that’s, in the best sense of the word, a revolution. And that’s what we need.”

Not only did he use the quote to inspire the audience, he also added his own thoughts to provide perspective and illustrate his point further.

The quotes you share do not have to be from well-known authors. In fact, unusual quotes that have been rarely used can work in your favor by providing a different perspective. Just remember, it pays to exercise caution, as an inappropriate quote in the wrong situation may backfire instead.

2. End with a Compelling Image

We all know the saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. It’s pretty cliché, but true – Images do help to bring your message across in an impactful way. Ever heard of the ‘The Burning Monk’? In 1963, photographer Malcolm Browne captured a stunning photo of a monk who self-immolated in protest against the persecution of Buddhists. That award-winning photo sparked outrage around the world, and brought the situation into focus for many who were previously unaware of the situation.

how to end your presentation - burning man example

Image Credit: rarehistoricalphotos.com

If the news had been reported without this image, would it have the same impact? Unlikely. Of course, information can’t be shared without text, but ultimately, images are the ones that leave the biggest impression.

When you’re selecting an image to put on your final slide, ask yourself these questions to guide you along.

  1. What do you want to show your audience?
  2. What are you trying to illustrate?
  3. How should they feel after looking at the image?

3. Leave With a Question

While it is not often encouraged to leave your audience hanging, suspense can be a fantastic way to create a memorable ending if you use it appropriately. Round off with a question that they can reflect on after the presentation, to keep them thinking about what you’ve shared. Keep it closely related to your topic, and use it to put the spotlight on a point you which to bring across.

Take a look at Scott Dinsmore’s TEDx talk, ‘How to find and do work you love’. In his presentation, he talked about discovering what matters to us, and then start doing it. For his conclusion, he ended by asking the audience, “What is the work you can’t not do?”

This ending can also useful if you know that you will be following up with a second presentation that will answer the question. Pose a thought-provoking question, then hint that you will be answering it in your next presentation, to give them something to look forward to.

4. Encourage Action

Sometimes, it’s great to be straightforward, and tell the audience what you’d like them to do. Would you like them to try doing something? Buy a product you’re selling? Commit to an event?

When you’re inviting the audience to act on something, be sure to make a clear statement. Ensure that your words are not vague or misleading, and bring your point across in a confident and firm manner.

Don’t make it tough for your audience to do an action. Who likes to leap through dozens of obstacles to get things done? Get your audience moving by starting slow. For example, if you’re presenting about environmental protection, don’t ask them to cut out all wastage immediately, that’s an impossible task. Instead, ask them to start by recycling whenever they can.

Alternatively, if you’re daring enough, make a bold statement. Share your belief in something, and involve the audience in it.

Not sure how you can do it? Watch Kakenya Ntaiya’s talk, ‘A girl who demanded school’. In her concluding statement, she passionately declared:

“I want to challenge you today. You are listening to me because you are here, very optimistic. You are somebody who is so passionate. You are somebody who wants to see a better world. You are somebody who wants to see that war ends, no poverty. You are somebody who wants to make a difference. You are somebody who wants to make our tomorrow better. I want to challenge you today that to be the first, because people will follow you. Be the first. People will follow you. Be bold. Stand up. Be fearless. Be confident.

5. Reiterate Your Message

You’ve spent a lot of time preparing the message you’re sharing, and now it’s time to reinforce it. To do that, summarize the key points of your presentation, and repeat them so that your audience remembers it once more.

A great technique to use when you’re repeating your message is the Rule of Three, a rule that suggests that people generally tend to remember concepts or ideas presented in threes better. Some commonly used examples would be ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ and ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’. Think of your presentation, and distil your key message into three words, phrases or sentences, before structuring your conclusion.

Neil Pasricha’s TEDx talk, ‘The 3 A’s of awesome’, is a fantastic example to learn from. In it, he talks about 3 secrets to lead an awesome life, i.e., Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity, which form the message for his entire presentation. But to further strengthen his message, he then repeats it at his conclusion by saying:

“And that’s why I believe that if you live your life with a great attitude, choosing to move forward and move on whenever life deals you a blow, living with a sense of awareness of the world around you, embracing your inner three year-old and seeing the tiny joys that make life so sweet and being authentic to yourself, being you and being cool with that, letting your heart lead you and putting yourself in experiences that satisfy you, then I think you’ll live a life that is rich and is satisfying, and I think you’ll live a life that is truly awesome.”

Sounds great, isn’t it? Not only did he reinforce his points, but he also captured his audience’s attention with a positive statement.

As presenters, we always hope that our presentations will end off on a high note. So now that you know how to end a presentation with style, take some time to prepare and practice, and you’re good to go. All the best!