As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for making a number of presentations. You present to partners in order to convince them to join you. You present to investors in order to persuade them to fund your business. And of course, you present to prospects, hoping they become clients after seeing your pitch.
If you’re not experienced at presenting, this process can be intimidating. But with the right set of strategies, and enough prep time, even the most inexperienced presenter can make a compelling case.
Tips for a More Compelling Presentation
Here are a few ways to help make your presentation more interesting (and more persuasive):
1. Invest in professional designs.
First, understand that PowerPoint design is as important as any other type of design in business. If you head into a presentation and your slides look like they were designed by a middle school student, you’re not going to make a good impression. Invest in professionally designed presentations in order to guarantee that your presentation looks polished.
2. Incorporate better visuals.
Like it or not, people are going to be drawn to look at your slides while you’re talking. Two written bullet points aren’t going to be nearly as interesting or as compelling as a strong image. Try to include more interesting, captivating visuals, such as high-quality photos, graphs, or even memes.
3. Inject your personality.
Don’t be afraid to inject your personality into your presentation. Too many entrepreneurs try to look as professional as possible, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad instinct, it can make you look stale and insincere. If you like to joke around and have fun, include some jokes and present in a more casual way.
4. Include facts and statistics.
Hard facts will always be more persuasive than generalities. For example, saying, “lots of people love marshmallow fluff,” is far less compelling than “62% of American adults say they consume marshmallow fluff regularly.” Try to back up your points with statistics and facts.
5. Don’t simply read.
It’s fine to use your slides or a set of notecards as prompts to help you remember the flow of your presentation, but don’t simply read from them. Merely reading to your audience is boring and disallows you to project your voice naturally.
6. Practice (but not too much).
Spend some time practicing your presentation—whether it’s in front of a group of colleagues, or by yourself in front of the mirror. It will help you build familiarity and confidence. Just be careful not to practice too much. If you memorize your speech verbatim and become too familiar with it, you might end up sounding robotic and over-rehearsed.
7. Be prepared for questions.
Always assume you’re going to get some challenging questions when your core presentation is complete. What do you think your listeners are going to ask you? Anticipate the objections that people may bring, and prepare a plan to tackle them. In the moment, if a question takes you off-guard, make note of it for future presentations, and try to admit your uncertainty as gracefully as you can.
8. Work on your pacing.
Pacing is vital for an effective speech. If you speak too quickly, it may be a sign of low confidence, and your listeners will have trouble following. If you speak too slowly, your speech could become boring. Try to mix up your pace throughout the speech as necessary, and find a comfortable middle ground overall.
9. Watch your own body language.
Understand that your posture and body language will play a major role in how you’re interpreted. Maintaining eye contact, gesticulating, and moving around the stage (if you’re standing up) can all be powerful, if used correctly. Consider filming yourself giving a presentation, then watching the video. Oftentimes, you’ll notice habits you wouldn’t notice any other way.
10. Play to your audience.
Watch your audience carefully, and be prepared to adjust things as needed. Do people look confused? Consider spending an extra moment clarifying your point. Do they seem bored? Consider accelerating the pace of your presentation. Are they not laughing at your jokes? Cut them. It’s also important to understand your audience in advance, when possible, and tailor your presentation to them, specifically.
Cultivating Presentation Experience
The most reliable way to become a better presenter is to get used to presenting. Like with any skill, you’ll get better at it the more often you practice it.
In the days leading up to a big presentation, you might not have an opportunity to hone your skills. But in the downtime between major presentations, you can practice in low-stakes environments, like with friends and colleagues. Try to practice regularly to become a more consistent presenter.