10 Steps to More Powerful Presentations

How many dull business presentations have you sat through that were filled with sleep-inducing statistics? Those talks flopped because their presenters failed to use the following 10 tips for developing attention-getting talks that compel action.

  1. Begin with an unexpected insight, a provocative question, or a unique perspective that dovetails with the key message you wish to impart. 

  2. Stories are intrinsically engaging. So keep listeners engaged by telling stories—ones that relate to your goals and to their needs and concerns. Don’t present a monotonous litany numbers and expect listeners to stay awake and involved.

  3. Put your passion into your presentation. You’re giving this talk to inform, persuade or motivate listeners to accept a point of view or take an action you believe in. Make the audience aware of your conviction.  

  4. Never read from slides or notes (though it’s fine to have notes for occasional reference). Smile. Make eye contact with listeners. (In other words, talk to individuals, not a huge interchangeable group of people.) 

  5. Practice your talk with a friend or coworker. The more familiar you are with your presentation, the easier it will be to deliver it, and the less nervous you’ll feel. Don’t rush; speak slowly.

  6. Know your central message and be able to express it clearly and concisely.  Be able to back up statements and address concerns with facts and research.

  7. Slides should supplement your talk, not be your talk. On a slide, use no more than six lines of type, simple graphics and a font size that can be read from the back of the room.

  8. Hold questions until the end so you won’t be distracted, and be prepared to respond to both questions and objections.

  9. Don’t schedule your talk when people are already distracted. Avoid late afternoons, lunchtimes, and the days leading up to a national holiday.

  10. End by summarizing your most important points and telling the audience what action you’d like them to take. Offer a handout after your talk to further reinforce your points.