A presentation is a public performance of your very own show. The show is remembered by the highlights, the laughs, the drama, and the pathos. However, as a business person you will be wise to avoid the facets of a Hollywood production and focus on your business goal. There are three steps you can follow to deliver a winning business presentation that will have you and your business remembered.
Step One: Be Honest
Tell the audience the real purpose of your presentation. Take them into your confidence and advise them that "This is a presentation to support my proposition that…" There, done, a purposeful confession! Now engage the audience as best that you can. Be mindful that stakeholders, present and absent may review your presentation in the cold light of day instead of the bonhomie of your presence and slick show pony presentation skills. What will the audience leave your presentation with? What have you done to reinforce your story? What if a stranger was to read your presentation? Will they leave with a warm inner glow that gets cold the next day or will they have the full story in the show program that they can share with other stakeholders? The answer is to ensure that the printed edition of your presentation, or the full presentation sent as a PDF is comprehensive.
Step Two: Fifty Slides with References
This is the exact opposite to what the show ponies would have you believe. They are entertainers. Your goal is to present purposeful business presentations. This requires more work and a deeper knowledge of the details. It also means that if you really know your ideas and can support them with references you will be less flamboyant but more likely viewed as sincere and knowledgeable.
Presenting fifty slides takes some smarts. The look of fear on the audience's faces when they see the total slide number as your presentation comes on the screen would spook a show pony but not you! Stay calm. Introduce the show calmly and honestly. Declare that the slideshow is naturally referenced to allow review at a later date. You want to ensure that all stakeholders feel informed and comfortable with what you are presenting. Then the skill of a purposeful business presenter becomes clear. Mention a slide in passing. "This slide gives the obvious references that you would expect".... "For the record I have included another reference that summarises..." Keep moving along in a purposeful manner. Some say each slide is two minutes. Not the purposeful presenter! Whistle along quickly showing that you have done the research and are prepared to share it. The panic in the audience will be replaced by the knowledge that you are putting a lot of cards on the table. Snake oil sales folks will hate the idea.
Step Three: Be Human
About now the reality that all presenters know becomes true. It ain't easy! Draw out the questions that are asked. Share the doubts that even you have. Get the audience to discuss their concerns. Equally human would be to have someone taking notes of all objections for you to review later. Generously and maybe bravely take their thoughts on board. Give a little ground in your argument. Some may see any backward movement as retreat. Remember retreat is a strategy, not failure. Then surprise them. Thank them for their engagement. They are after all investing their time and intellectual property educating you on how to present your proposition. Be honest and admit it! Referencing back to the comprehensive presentation, finish where you began with the reason that you are there and seek to confirm that you have gained their confidence such that they have understood what you presented and will retain and value the knowledge in that presentation.
Alan Manly is an entrepreneur with extensive experience owning and managing SMEs. He is also the author of When There Are Too Many Lawyers … There Is No Justice ($24.95).