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10 Effective Business Presentation Attributes

written by: Mike Sweeney • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 8/10/2012

There are many attributes of an effective business presentation, some content focused, some presenter focused. Here are 10 worth considering the next time you are in front of a group of business people.

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    10 Key Factors to Presentation Success

    Business presentations can often be challenging for a presenter. Besides the normal nervousness, the presenter must consider the meeting room layout, the attendeees, the equipment to be used, and the overall purpose of the presentation. Once all that is determined, your content and delivery become center-stage.

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    1. Easy to Understand – This simply means the content that is being displayed on the screen or in a handout is in simple vocabulary and laid out in a way that makes sense to virtually any casual observer. The easier the presentation is to understand, the greater the chance of the recommendations being acted upon at the end of the presentation.

    2. Logical Flow – The presentation should work in a sequential approach, with each section logically leading into the next section. This attribute works hand-in-hand with being easy to understand. When a presentation is laid-out in a way that is easy to follow, it is much more effective for everyone. You’ll have fewer unnecessary questions to answer. Confusing information requiring questions from the audience only impedes your presentation's success.

    3. Concise – Use as few words and slides (if using PowerPoint or similar software) as possible. Err on the side of a shorter presentation. This technique forces you to remove extraneous items from your presentation and encourages you to be efficient. Too much information gets confusing and boring, and will generally cause anxiety among the audience. They will start searching for other things to do mentally and physically, such as daydreaming or checking e-mails on their smart phones.

    4. Powerful Opening – A powerful opening capture's your listener's attention and sets the stage for the rest of the presentation. However, if you perform poorly, you may lose the audience immediately. With an opening that is thought-provoking and interesting, the audience will be anticipating the remainder of your presentation. Be sure the supporting part of your presentation is at the same high-quality level.

    5. Visually Appealing – Being visually appealing helps keep the interest of the audience, and pictures, short videos, colors, and graphics all play an important role. The constant movement of new and different images and colors keeps the audience focused on the screen, thereby increasing their attention span and interest levels.

    6. Summary – Make sure you summarize the presentation. It’s a way to be sure the audience hears the key points again, but this time, they will hear them all lumped together, one after the other. The summary can be a powerful reminder for the audience and is a key attribute of an effective business presentation. While you are presenting the summary, watch the reactions of the audience closely. It’s a good way to gauge their feelings at that moment and to determine whether they are in synch with you or not.

    7. Recommendations – After you summarize, outline what you would like the audience to do. This will act as your close to the presentation. This phase should logically follow the summary and lead the audience into your suggested action steps. If you were captivating during your summary portion, the acceptance of your recommendations will be easier for your listeners to digest. Audience Clapping (2) 

    8. Action Steps – As part of your recommendation, provide action steps that support your suggestions. For example, if you are suggesting that there be a 90-day test of your products and services, outline exactly what needs to happen to make this work. Don’t expect the prospect to know what to do and what action to take. Make it easy for them. Have the action items in place and gain the prospect’s agreement. The action steps are a natural part of your recommendations and should flow quite easily.

    9. Strong Verbal Skills – This is a “soft" skill that takes some practice to get just right. Voice intensity, rate of speech, and voice inflection, are all important in sending a strong verbal message. This message should be aligned with the visual part of your presentation. Choose your words and vocabulary very carefully. If the topic is something you are very knowledgeable about, then you can concentrate on sending the appropriate voice energy and intensity.

    10. Visible Confidence - Your posture, movement, gestures, and eye contact will all send a clear message to the audience. . . are you confident and worth listening too, or not? Your visible confidence could make or break the presentation. With a strong voice and a confident looking demeanor, you can overcome many obstacles in a presentation. Make sure your confidence is displayed right from the beginning of the presentation and continues until you have made your recommendations. You can’t expect an audience to make a confident decision about you and your recommendations unless they can see that same level of confidence throughout the presentation.