The business presentation is a crucial aspect of a new or prospecting business opportunity. Whether it’s internal or external, a business presentation is always important and something that should be conducted in a professional manner.
This is an opportunity for you to display leadership, organisation, dedication, innovation, professionalism and an interest in your work – all things that will remind your employer why they hired you and bring them to consider your position within the company.
With that in mind, there are a few rules and presentation tips to follow when it comes to business presentations and it would be in your best interest to take note. Abide by them and that will be how to do a presentation everyone will enjoy.
Preparation and practice
The best thing you can do for any meeting is to prepare and practice beforehand. You run the risk of talking in circles, relaying irrelevant information, stumbling over your sentences and inaccurately answering questions if you don’t. And that won’t impress anyone.
Prepare your material well before the time and make sure you've done the necessary research. You're also going to need time to proofread what you’ve come up with and practice is so that you’re comfortable with presenting it. Use words you, and your audience, understand and always provide the full word first for any acronyms you may use.
In your preparation, you also need to make sure you’re prepared for the questions that come after the presentation. Exhaust all options of what could possibly be asked and make sure you have something to say about each of them.
If you’re posed with a completely unexpected question, make sure you’re not thrown off by it completely. The best answer to those questions is to be honest about what you do know and promise to do some more research and get back to the enquirer.
Be confident in your speech
The main and most dreaded part about a business presentation is actual speaking part. Not everyone is a natural-born public speaker, but it’s not impossible for anyone to confidently present in front of a group of people. All you need to do is find some confidence and be mindful of yourself.
Don’t rush: The easiest way to stumble over your sentences, lose your audiences focus and sound incomprehensible is by speeding through your presentation. If you know you’re a fast speaker, be mindful about slowing your speech-rate down. And when it feels like you’re talking slow enough, slow down some more. We've established that business presentations are important so you need to make sure that no details are lost because of speed that can be controlled.
Take a breath: “Uhms” and “Ahs” are a natural filler that most people unconsciously add to their presentations. So, while you’re practising, take note of how often you lose thought and resort to a filler. Then, replace those fillers with a thoughtful pause or a calming breath. Usually, these “uh” words are used at the end of a sentence and stall while we search our minds for our next thought. So, by silently pausing or breathing instead, it allows you to find what you’re looking for and your audience to soak in the information you’ve just provided.
Trust your material: Your greatest source of confidence can be derived from your research material. You need to know that what you’re presenting is correct, relevant and what the people came to hear. Trust in that and you don’t necessarily have a reason to sound unsure when you present. Also, remember who you’re presenting to, usually it’s a few colleagues and possibly a client you’re meeting for the first time, either way, there’ll be someone there you know and who will be able to support you.
Don’t distract with your hands
Another quirk that many nervous speakers do is play with their hands while they talk. This can be incredibly distracting to the listener and should, therefore, be controlled. If you do need to use your hands, only use them to reference something on the screen or in the office that’s relevant to what you’re saying. But playing with your hair or face, tapping your fingers, picking at something on your person, and the like, need to stop.
Your options are to hold your hands together when you’re talking, one of over the other and keep them relatively still. You can even use the contemplative fingers-to-fingers hands suspended position (yes, the image of a psychologist listening to your issues is what we mean), or, simply, hands behind your back, stand up tall and deliver your presentation.
It’s all about the eye contact
It might make you feel uncomfortable, but it will make your presentation more engaging if you have eye contact with the people you’re talking to. Eye contact is a powerful aspect of body language and demands attention which is what you want from the people who have come to listen to you.
Eye contact is how to make a presentation feel personalised and tailored to your audience. It also encourages them to be completely focused on what you’re saying as they may feel embarrassed if you catch their eye and they’ve just been browsing on their cell phone, for example. On that note, you also need to make sure that your material is both interesting and relevant so that they’ll want to focus anyway.