Developing an effective presentation
To make an impression and get your message across quickly and clearly, use a step-by-step approach when creating your presentation
- Start by defining the problem.
- Outline your solution and supporting research.
- Give evidence of your credibility.
- Outline pricing (only if necessary).
- Explain what happens next.
If you are going to use PowerPoint (or something similar) use it to enhance your presentation, not overwhelm it. Keep the presentation as short as feasible – six to 10 slides.
Slides with a lot of text will distract your audience - use bullet points that you can discuss with your audience. Make the presentation a guideline for your speech and use the handouts to give more detail. A short video can also be an effective introduction.
More presentation tips:
- Arrive early so you can test your equipment.
- Know how to use a projector.
- Have a 'Plan B' if the equipment fails.
- Check the room for suitability, plugs and local voltage rate.
- Ensure lighting is appropriate for the visual presentation.
Tips for delivering your pitch
When you deliver your actual pitch, try to achieve three things:
- Make it sound and look as if they are the only business you are pitching to. Present your idea and competitive advantage clearly and relate them wherever possible to the aims and goals of the company you are facing.
- Get them involved in the presentation. The more talking they do about their issues and the challenges they're looking to solve, and the more carefully you listen, the more favourable their impression of you is likely to be.
- Listen and adjust: make sure you can adjust your presentation immediately based on what they say. The more flexible and quick-witted you can be in this regard, the better your presentation will come across. Be prepared to modify portions, or leave out non-relevant sections to more closely match their needs and expectations.
More tips for delivering your pitch:
- Make your opening lively.
- Tailor your tone, formal or informal to your audience.
- Maintain eye contact with your audience to help keep their attention.
- Show a picture or graphic early - it can capture the audience's attention and be a powerful visual reference.
- Have samples of your product on hand where appropriate.
- Avoid jargon, and use humour with caution - particularly for audiences from another culture.
- Promote your product or service positively and avoid being negative about your competitors.
Decide who will present
The ability to speak confidently and fluently to others is an important business skill that will serve you well throughout your business life. If you're nervous or not accomplished at speaking or presenting, either get some training in effective communication, or as a last resort appoint someone suitable from your staff to be the spokesperson.
Make sure whoever speaks for your business:
- is confident
- can outline the main aspects clearly
- is passionate about your business
- will not get side-tracked.
If English isn't your audience's first language it is generally advisable to have all your support material translated. An interpreter may be required, dependant on the market.
In some markets, questioning a person's ability in English is considered rude, as it questions their level of education. Do your homework around education and culture.
Consider greeting the audience in their language if it isn't English. Do not attempt to use the local language for anything else if you are not familiar with it.
If you do use an interpreter, go through the presentation with them in advance and determine how you will structure the presentation. Clarify technical terms.
Practice your skills
The following New Zealand organisations or events can provide courses or opportunities for you to gain confidence and hone your speaking skills:
- business schools in universities
- community groups such as Zonta, Rotary or Lions Clubs
- chambers of commerce or industry associations
If you are speaking at events your focus may be around developments in your industry or the impact of new technology.
Speaking to larger groups can open up bigger opportunities. For example, if you sell products to dentists, speaking at the British or American Dental Association's next conference about an industry related topic would give you credibility and exposure to hundreds of potential customers.
Search for conferences in your field and contact the organisers for the chance to speak.
Follow up questions or requests for further information that were raised during the presentation. It is also a good idea to evaluate your performance and the results of the presentation in terms of meeting your objectives.