7 Secrets to a Knockout Business Presentation

business presentation
Hero Images / Getty Images

The presentation is starting. Dim the lights. Time for a nap. These are the thoughts of many audiences subject to yet another boring business presentation. To awaken the cognitive powers of your audience, start by learning the seven secrets of a knockout business presentation.

1. Dig Deep

Delivering an effective business presentation that will bring the audience to life requires more than dropping the usual facts into a slide deck. Find a relevant fact beyond your topic norm. Offer the unexpected—the one obscure and contradictory piece of information that will raise heads and stimulate discussion. Go beyond the cursory search engine scan. Check out educational websites for new research, interview industry mavericks, and scour the business press.

2. Avoid Info Overload

Cramming lots of bullet points and images into your slides is a sure way to put the audience to sleep. The human brain processes images at a rate 60,000 times faster than text. One carefully-chosen fact or image that tells a story can make your presentation more memorable and enjoyable because people will be listening to you and not straining to read words on a screen.

3. Practice Delivery

A knockout business presentation is so captivating it makes the audience forget about the speaker and become absorbed in the content. Practice your delivery over and over until you remove distractions such as nervous tics and uncomfortable pauses. Pay particular attention to your body language. Is it non-existent or overly excessive? Good presenters work the stage in a natural manner.

4. Forget Comedy

Business presenters will flirt with the temptation to deliver the stand-up humor of a comedian. Remember your audience didn't come to laugh; this is a business presentation. Leave your jokes at home. It's OK to throw in a few natural off-the-cuff laughs, but don't overdo it.

5. Pick Powerful Props

A few simple props to demonstrate a point can be memorable in the minds of your target audience. Management guru Tom Peters used a cooking timer to show how quickly factory expansion is occurring in China.

6. Minimize You

People are self-centered and your audience is no different. They want to know how you'll help them solve their problem. They don't really care about your personal history. Frame your presentation so they can see themselves as the protagonist solving the problem.

7. Speak the Language

A knockout business presentation doesn't leave people wondering what you said. It might be tempting to throw in a few big words, but why risk alienating your audience? Always explain terms and acronyms. The number of smart executives who aren't current with the latest terminology would surprise you.

It all comes down to what your audience walks away with in the end. Did you deliver another boring business presentation, or did you persuade or motivate everyone to action? Apply the seven secrets to your next business presentation and watch your ratings soar.

Edited by Alyssa Gregory