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How to Improve Your Business Presentation Skills?

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • November 8, 2021
  • 5835 Views

Business Presentation SkillsBusiness presentations can be highly nerve-wracking for people who have an aversion to public speaking. Your knees get weak, arms get heavy…you get the idea. If the thought of doing a business presentation in front of your work colleagues makes you that nervous, then you should consider participating in a presentation skills workshop to master the craft of public speaking.

Tips for Improving Your Business Presentation Skills before Your Next Corporate Event

Whether you’re preparing a business presentation for a meeting or large corporate event, here are some valuable tips to help you fine-tune the art of public speaking and get rid of your nerves.

Know Your Audience

One of the best ways to prepare for your presentation is by researching your audience. Knowing who you’re speaking to—their interests, expectations, and knowledge base—helps you build the foundation of your content strategy. You can better gauge the right tone (conversational or formal), depth of information (comprehensive or cursory), and even visual aids (video and photos vs. graphs and charts).

Set Small Goals

Business presentations are all about making your objectives well known to your audience. Engage them by clearly defining and explaining the purpose of your presentation and the information you hope to convey to them by the very end. Business Storytelling is about framing your message and information in a story format. It allows you to take facts and ideas and communicate them to your audience in an engaging way. Be clear and upfront about the intentions of your presentation, whether it’s a product announcement, informing them of your quarterly sales, or presenting new ideas.

Plan and Structure Your Presentation

Once you’ve established your objective, it’s time to plan the overall structure of your presentation. You’ll need to organize your information in a logical, easy-to-follow sequence that keeps the audience invested through the end. An opening, a body, and a closing are fundamental to every presentation, but you will have to figure out the pacing and transitions in between. Where’s a good place for a funny story or spontaneous poll?

Craft a Compelling Opening

The importance of a strong opening cannot be overstated. Speakers who fail to hook their audience from the beginning face the uphill battle of recapturing their attention from start to finish. Experts recommend attention-grabbers like:

  • An inventive question: Inventive questions are thought-provoking, encourage creativity and challenge one’s assumptions (e.g., “What would happen if…?”, “Suppose that…?”).
  • Surprising (but relevant) facts: Sharing little-known facts about the subject at hand will pique listeners’ curiosity and spark anticipation for what else they may learn from you.
  • A powerful quote: Have you ever had a quote stick with you long after hearing it? Use a gripping quote to introduce and reinforce your presentation’s key message.
  • A product demonstration: If your purpose is to launch a new product or service, you can’t go wrong with a demonstration to kick things off.

Prepare a Few Anecdotes to Break the Ice

Working personal and professional anecdotes about your business experience into your presentation is a great icebreaker. It makes you come off as more relatable and keeps your audience members thoroughly engaged in your presentation. Plus, good business storytelling is all about adding a personal flair to help drive your points home.

Use Effective Visuals

Slide after slide of bulleted text can strain your crowd’s eyes and patience. Break up the monotony with visual aids such as infographics, including high-quality images and video, as well as interactive charts and graphs. Just be sure to use them effectively—you don’t want to detract from your presentation with a hodgepodge of visuals. Keep it simple and use design elements like colour, shape, and typography to communicate your ideas.

Tell Stories with Data and Statistics

Speaking of charts and graphs, they are fantastic tools for transforming raw data and numbers into valuable insights and trends. Those with the finest business communication skills, however, take it a step further by building a narrative around statistical data to tell a captivating story.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practicing your presentation aloud in front of a mirror or a test audience at home can help you become more comfortable and confident with the information you’re presenting. It can also help you tweak your presentation by cutting down time or making some revisions to improve the flow. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to get nervous on the big day.

Fix Your Body Language

Excellent body language is one of the most important business presentation skills you can master. Stand up straight, smile, and make eye contact with various audience members throughout your presentation. These simple physical signals convey a sense of confidence and knowledge to your audience members. Avoid relying entirely on cue cards or digital devices (unless you’re using them to illustrate your points or for special effects).

Engage Your Audience

Remember that maintaining your connection with audience members is key to keeping them engaged. Make eye contact, tell a joke to get them laughing, ask relatable questions. You can also enhance your public speaking skills and engagement by learning to work the stage. Step away from the podium and move around purposefully, especially with larger crowds. You don’t want to neglect any section of the room; everyone should feel included.

Exude Confidence and Passion

If you love what you do, it’s not hard to showcase how passionate you are about it. The confidence part, on the other hand, doesn’t always come as naturally to everyone. Remind yourself that you’re the one in control of the situation and that you’re there to educate and inform others about a concept, product, or topic about which you’re the expert. Try doing a few deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves and clear your mind before commencing the presentation.

Be Authentic and Passionate

Audiences respond best to authenticity; they need to believe that you believe in what you’re saying. But how do you get that across to your audience? One way you can convey your passion is through nonverbal cues. Yes, basic communication skills include facial expressions and body language! Imagine your audience members as your closest friends, and your smile will come naturally, your shoulders will relax, and your gestures will reflect your inner enthusiasm. You’ll look and sound less rehearsed as a result. 

Anticipate and Prepare for Q&A Sessions

One unexpected question could throw off your entire presentation, shaking your confidence and undermining your credibility with the audience. Prepare ahead first by doing your due homework on the subject, so you’re less likely to be left stumbling for an answer. Then consider opening the floor with a dedicated Q&A session. This eliminates unplanned interruptions and makes spectators feel like they are a part of your presentation. (Also, remember that it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers!) 

Include a Captivating Closing and Call-to-Action

You’ve reached the end of your presentation and may want to wrap things up as quickly and painlessly as possible. Don’t miss the opportunity for a resounding close and a call to action. Leave a lasting impression on your audience by inspiring them to act. Tell them to sign up for your service, subscribe to your company newsletter, or buy your new product. Many of the same techniques for openings work just as well for a closing. End with a personal story or memorable quote to drive home your central theme. 

Seek Feedback and Learn from Each Presentation

Learn areas where you can improve your oral communication skills by asking for feedback from a trusted colleague or mentor. If there is a recording of your presentation, review the clip for yourself to see any nervous ticks or filler words you can work on managing. 

Invest in Professional Soft Skills Training to Fine-Tune Your Business Presentation Skills

Soft skills like good oral communication and public speaking don’t come easily to many people. Even extroverts who seem confident and are in their element on a public platform might need to brush up on their business storytelling and professional presentation skills. If you’re an employer looking to maximize employee potential, then a workshop offered by The Soft Skills Group may be the solution.

We offer employee presentation skills training in Toronto and across Canada. What’s more, we can create customized workshops to meet your organization’s specific need for business storytelling training.

Contact us today to learn more.

 

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More