Introducing the“Power of Wow.”
Whether you’re a beginner, or highly experienced presenter, we’re
confident you’ll find a tip or two in this guide to make your presentations
more impressive and effective. It’s a quick refresher course you can
complete in 15 minutes or less.
Focus on the needs of your audience.
Whatever the subject of your presentation, it’s important to understand what
your audience wants to gain from attending. The key to winning over an audience
is to make their needs and desires the prominent part of your message.
Selling goods and/or services
To capture attention, tell listeners what rewards they will personally enjoy
using your product or service. Even if you are selling complex technology, your
audience wants to know how it can save time, make money, reduce effort, or
make them more successful.
Training employees or customers
While you cover the “how to” steps, be sure to interject the personal advantages
each customer or employee will gain by having these abilities. The advantages
may include working faster, reducing stress and effort, and many others.
Producing investor support
Why your company wants investor money is important. Support can be better
built, however, by focusing on the benefits to the investor. These are usually
financial, but can also be such things as satisfaction of contributing to an
important advancement or being part of historical innovations.
The usual goal of this type of presentation, good news or bad, is to reduce
investor concerns, or sell stock. If you make these presentations, you are probably
already emphasizing your investors’ needs. We suggest you review your material
to be sure you haven’t missed an opportunity to say “you” instead of “we.”
Informing the community
Community presentations usually concern something your company has done,
or plans to do. To make the work acceptable, be sure to cover the benefits the
community (your listeners) will enjoy from the work. Then prove what you say
by listing the actions that will create these benefits.
Direct the message.
Employ this essential practice at every presentation. Mentally put yourself in the
audience. Imagine their attitude. Are you glad to be there? Are you comfortable?
Understanding how your audience feels gives you the information you need to
make an essential connection with them.
Is your audience happy to be there, or did you have to convince them to come?
As you prepare and present, include a statement showing you understand and
share their enthusiasm, or that you’re confident you can make them glad they
attended — then do so.
Is your audience taking a break from work to be with you? Once they start looking
at their watches you’ve lost them. Start and end at a pre-established time. If
circumstances cause you to start late, assure your audience you understand the
value of their time and that the presentation will end on time. Then speed up, or
edit your talk accordingly.
Is the room cool, hot, noisy, crowded or uncomfortable in any way? If you have
control over making it better, do it. If not, mention the mutual discomfort early in
the presentation. It will help your audience relax and create a personal
connection with them.
Younger audiences require more visual stimulation. Older audiences may have
difficulty hearing or seeing small images. Remember who your audience is, and
adjust the presentation if their age requires it.
The Wall Street Journal is written to a tenth-grade education level. When
preparing, choose language easily understood by the person in the room with
the least education and knowledge. By doing so, everyone can understand
what you present, and you won’t be talking down to the highly educated.
Build on a proven success tool.
Are you selling a product? Prospects want to know “what will it do for me?” Are
you presenting to stockholders? Investors want to know how the news will affect
their pocketbooks. Are you training employees and customers? They need to
know how to accomplish a task, but also what advantages will come from the
knowledge. The proven tool salespeople have been using for years is to focus the
presentation on benefits. Then cover the facts or features that bring those
Benefits are fulfilling basic human desires. These include:
• Make money
• Save time
• Save money
• Save effort
• Gain comfort
• Be appreciated
• Enjoy pleasure
• Be in style
• Be praised
• Feel secure
• Be successful
• Look smart
• Be admired
• Be an individual
• Have beautiful possessions
• Emulate others
• Take advantage of opportunities
• Keep possessions
• Avoid criticism
• Avoid pain
• Avoid loss of reputation
• Avoid loss of money
• Avoid trouble
• Avoid effort
Here are examples of focusing on benefits and supporting them with features:
Benefit: Save time giving branch offices weekly updates. (save time and effort)
Feature: The auto-dial feature can connect up to 25 numbers in 3 minutes.
Benefit: Your dividends will increase by 5% next quarter. (make money)
Feature: Company profits met first quarter projected growth figures.
Benefit: Look like a hero at your next managers meeting. (be praised and
Feature: Hit Command-F3 to produce a profit and loss statement, automatically.
Benefit: Use these techniques with confidence. (feel secure, be successful)
Feature: Each technique has been used successfully by experienced
Remember the above tool when organizing and presenting your message.
Employ your personal advantage.
As the speaker, you are the center of the presentation. Your visuals and hand-outs
are there only to support you. It’s important to look and sound comfortable and
appear honest and believable. The surest way to do this is to build your
presentation around your own personality and style. It’s an old adage, but “be
yourself” is the secret to success.
Are you a strong, dynamic speaker? Use your own voice to provide the attentiongetting
drama and emphasis needed to make important points. Then support them
If you have a strong presence, or are agile and limber, take advantage of who you
are. Move around during the presentation. Do live demonstrations, be animated
when talking, and use movement to accentuate major issues.
Attempting to be strong and dynamic when you are basically a warm, soft-spoken
person works against your believability. Write and present your talk from your
heart. When you are not in front of an audience, how do you communicate? Use
that style in your presentation.
An amusing anecdote, quote or funny story at the beginning of a presentation puts
your audience at ease. Humor is entertaining and keeps audience attention. If you
are good at telling humorous stories, use this to your advantage. But make sure
the stories relate to the subject and don’t offend anyone in the room. If you are not
known as a good storyteller, don’t attempt humor. If your comedic timing is not
good, humor can detract more than it adds to your presentation.
Business audiences respect experience and past success. If you have this
advantage, use it to establish believability. Then promise your audience that
learning through your experience saves them from making the same mistakes in
Incorporate result-getting techniques.
Here are a few techniques guaranteed to add strength and power to your
Eye contact is the best way to build trust and acceptance with your audience.
Treat each person as if you are presenting to him or her personally. Depending on
the size of the group, make eye contact with everyone at least once, if not multiple
times. If this is not natural to you, it’s an important skill to practice and perfect.
Strong, accurate language
Studies have found that delivery has the largest impact on presentations and words
a relatively small influence. However, review what you have written and look for the
following style errors that weaken what you say.
Passive Voice Active Voice
Later it was decided to… Later we decided…
Negative Form Positive Form
Did not have confidence in Mistrusted
New breakthrough Breakthrough
Current status Status
Including audience participation in your presentation commands attention, boosts
learning, and builds interest in your subject.
Ask questions of the audience — Build a relationship with your audience by
immediately asking questions about their backgrounds or areas of interest. Then, if
you can, adjust your message based on those answers.
Integrate questions into the talk — Pose questions during the presentation. Ask
such things as “what do you think happened next?” “Does anyone know the
outcome?” “What is the next step?” Ask whatever is appropriate to your subject.
Then call on the audience for answers.
Ask for questions from the audience — If you’re a flexible speaker, tell your
listeners they can ask questions during the presentation. If not, invite questions at
the end. The first option will be more stimulating for the audience.
Test your visual aid needs.
Most presentations will be more successful with the addition of visuals. Studies
show that different people rely on different senses to absorb information. Some
respond better to audio, while others must see something visually before
understanding it. You’ll be guaranteed to reach everyone in your audience if you
present your material both ways. How important are visuals in your presentation?
Take this quick quiz and find out.
- Your product is visual or creates visuals.
- You have more than two or three major points to make.
- Your message is controversial or could be misunderstood.
- You are training and the “how to” involves multiple steps.
- Your subject is basically dry and needs to be made more exciting.
- Numbers and/or mathematics are part of your presentation.
- You are presenting language, terms and other material your audience may not be familiar with.
- The age or interest level of your audience requires visuals to maintain attention.
- You are not a strong speaker and need visuals to enliven your message.
- You want to add powerful emphasis to your major points.
- Your product is complicated or the material is complex.
If you checked any of the above items, some type of visual support is essential to
make your message understood. If you checked many items, your presentation may
require dynamic visuals, motion or even sound.
Enhance the impact of
Here are some tips on making sure your visuals properly support your message.
Use color to influence mood and emotion.
The colors for type, illustrations and backgrounds influence the way they are
perceived. Here is a basic guide to using color in your business presentations.
Red – excitement, alert
Green – growth
Yellow – confidence, warmth, wisdom
Purple – dignity, sophistication
White – professionalism, new, innocence
Blue – truth, trust, justice
Black – authority, strength
Orange – action, optimism
Brown – friendliness, warmth
Grey – integrity, maturity
Apply appropriate typestyles for readability.
For hand-outs or take-home material print the paragraph copy in a serif typestyle.
This style has been proven to be 30% easier to read. Type that is projected on a
screen, using a slide, overhead or multimedia projector, should be in sans serif
type. That’s because in the projection process letters lose some of their
sharpness, and serif type can look muddy when projected.
Include photographs to inject realism.
The more true to life you make the issue you are presenting, the better your
audience will understand and identify with it. Remember the impact you can add
by using photos or video of people on location, using products or talking to the
Insert illustrations to clarify or emphasize.
If your product is complex, an illustration lets you simplify the way it looks. Callouts
can be added to point out major features. Also, illustrations allow you to
show exploded views or views normally not seen, such as product interiors
Add motion, sound or music when necessary.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Add animation, sound effects or
music to enliven your presentation when it’s appropriate. Animation is valuable
when you need to attract attention, demonstrate how something works, or tell a
story without words. Animation without purpose detracts from your message.
Keep charts and graphs simple.
Charts and graphs that are used to support a point should be simple and instantly
understood. Audiences are confused by complex visuals. Here are examples of
the wrong and right ways to design charts and graphs.
Consider visual aid options.
Here are the primary advantages and disadvantages of most common visual aids.
The simplicity eliminates the possibility of mechanical problems. Requires only an
easel, which is available in most settings. Using a marker, you can draw or write
on the pages during the presentation and make it interactive. A darkened room is
Creating images is time-consuming as visuals must be drawn on paper, or drawn
and mounted on boards. Too small to be effective with a large audience.
Easy to create and revise images with a computer and laser printer. Can be marked
on with a grease pencil during the presentation for emphasis.
The projector is too large to carry on the road and may not be available in offices
or small conference rooms.
Excellent for photographic images and other art. It’s now easy to make attractive
slides of charts, graphs and other material on a computer. The projector is
portable enough to travel.
Slides require a longer lead time for production and are not intimate enough for
small conference rooms or office settings.
PC-based multimedia projection
Presentations can be easily written, revised, and personalized to each audience
as you travel. By allowing the use of sound and movement you can make your
visuals alive and dynamic.
Requires computer knowledge and experience.