Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Business Presentations

Business presentations
May 14, 2024   |   , Articles
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Creating a standout business presentation requires skill and finesse. Discover the essential tools and techniques to make your message truly impactful and engaging.

As a leader, you’ve climbed the corporate ladder, faced countless challenges, and made critical decisions that have shaped your organization’s future. But in a world where ideas are the currency of success, how well are you selling yours? Are your presentations leaving your audiences (bosses, clients, investors or even the public) inspired, motivated, and ready to take action? Or are they falling flat, failing to connect with key stakeholders and leaving you wondering what went wrong?

The truth is, crafting a persuasive business presentation is both an art and a science. It requires a deep understanding of your audience, a clear and compelling message, and the ability to deliver it with confidence and conviction. Whether you’re considering an online MBA or a short course to enhance your presentation skills, mastering this secret weapon can be the key to unlocking your full potential as a leader and driving your organization to new heights.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that will help make your presentations succinct, insightful and effortless experiences for your audience, whether that includes your boss, clients, investors or even the public.

Looking to leverage a tailor-made course that helps you motivate listeners to take action? Sign up for GLOBIS University’s course in Business Presentation

Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Structure Your Message with Proven Frameworks

One of the keys to delivering a persuasive presentation is structuring your message in a way that engages your audience and drives your point home. Innovative presentation frameworks like  SCQA and the Pyramid Principle can help you create a logical flow that keeps your audience invested in your message.

What is the SQCA framework?

The SCQA (Situation – Complication – Question – Answer) framework is a four-part sequence designed to craft presentations that are engaging, persuasive, and memorable.

Set the stage with the current situation, introduce the complication or challenge, pose a thought-provoking question, and provide your solution or answer. This structure builds tension, piques interest, and leads to a satisfying conclusion, leaving your audience motivated to take action.

Master the Pyramid Principle

The Pyramid Principle, popularized by Barbara Minto and widely adopted by top consulting firms like McKinsey, is a powerful framework for structuring compelling arguments and presentations. This approach emphasizes starting with your core message or recommendation at the top of the pyramid, followed by supporting arguments and data.

By presenting your main point upfront, you capture your audience’s attention and provide a clear roadmap for your presentation. This top-down structure allows you to build a logical and persuasive case, with each subsequent layer of the pyramid reinforcing and supporting your central theme.

The Pyramid Principle is particularly effective when communicating complex ideas or persuading stakeholders to take action, making it an invaluable tool for leaders looking to deliver impactful presentations.

Don’t: Overwhelm Your Audience with Information

Avoid the temptation to cram too much information into your presentation. Overloading your audience with data, complex concepts, or excessive details can be counterproductive. Instead, focus on delivering your key messages with clarity and impact.

Apply the 7×7 or 10/20/30 Rule

To keep your slides concise and effective, consider using the 7×7 rule (no more than seven lines of text per slide, with each line containing a maximum of seven words) or the 10/20/30 rule popularized by Guy Kawasaki (limit your presentation to 10 slides, 20 minutes, and a font size of at least 30 points). These guidelines help you strike the right balance between informative and engaging content.

Don’t: Overlook the Power of Visual Storytelling

In the world of business presentations, data and facts are important, but they alone may not be enough to persuade your audience. Visual storytelling is a powerful tool that can help you connect with your listeners on an emotional level and make your message more memorable.

This can mean choosing an effective font, using powerful images or infographics that tell, or design elements that make the presentation easy on the eyes. If you want a break from the usual PowerPoint look, consider tools like Prezi or Canva to find new templates and visual presentation techniques.

visual slide

Tired of presentations? Try the six-page memo instead!

For some business leaders, effective storytelling is more important than the act of making a presentation. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously abhorred the use of PowerPoint presentations within the e-commerce company, advocating instead for the “six-page memo”.

This approach popularized by Jeff Bezos involves distilling your entire presentation into a concise, six-page narrative that can be read in advance by your audience. By weaving together data, insights, and recommendations into a cohesive and compelling story, you can prime your audience with the key ideas and arguments before the presentation even begins.

Don’t: Ignore Cultural Considerations and Technology Integration

In today’s globalized business landscape, cultural differences play a significant role in how your presentation is received. Communication styles, nonverbal cues, and audience expectations can vary widely across cultures. As a leader, it’s crucial to adapt your approach accordingly to enhance your credibility and resonance with diverse audiences.

For example, when presenting to Japanese business professionals, it helps to respect their cultural and communication norms. Adapt your communication style to use indirect and implicit messages, be mindful of nonverbal cues, and provide ample context for decision-making. By tailoring your presentation to these cultural nuances, you can create a more effective and respectful experience for your Japanese audience.

You can read more about this in our article about  The Art of Doing Business with the Japanese, by Toru Takahashi

Don’t: Neglect the Importance of Preparation and Practice

One of the biggest mistakes executives make when it comes to presentations is underestimating the importance of preparation and practice. No matter how experienced or confident you are, winging it is never a good idea. Poorly prepared presentations can come across as disorganized, unprofessional, and unconvincing, undermining your credibility and authority as a leader.

To avoid this pitfall, allocate sufficient time for research, content creation, and rehearsal. Familiarize yourself with the material inside and out, anticipate potential questions or objections, and practice delivering your presentation multiple times.

practising speech

Consider seeking feedback from trusted colleagues who you can give a demo presentation to and identify areas for improvement.

Remember, the most persuasive presentations are those that are polished, purposeful, and delivered with genuine passion and conviction.

Do: Tailor Your Approach to Your Audience and Goals

To deliver a truly persuasive presentation, tailor your content and delivery to your specific audience and objectives. Consider their needs, expectations, and preferences, and adapt your message accordingly. Whether you choose the SCQA framework, the Pyramid Principle, or a narrative approach, ensure that your presentation resonates with your listeners and achieves your desired outcome.

As a leader, mastering the art of persuasive presentations can equip you with a secret weapon that lets you inspire, influence, and drive results in any business setting. Whether you’re pitching a transformative vision, rallying support for a strategic initiative, or presenting to a board of directors, your ability to communicate with clarity, conviction, and impact will set you apart as a leader and a catalyst for change.

So, if you’re ready to take your presentation skills to the next level and unlock your full potential, consider investing in an online MBA or a specialized course. With the right knowledge, tools, and practice, you can become a master of persuasion, capable of moving minds, hearts, and mountains in the pursuit of your organization’s success.

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