Creating and Giving Business Presentations

Industry Matters Newsletter

Presentations, while filled with essential knowledge, are often tedious and fail to deliver a cohesive message. In “Creating and Giving Business Presentations,” Kelley Business School professor Tatiana Kolovou explains how to make your presentation compelling, memorable and impactful.

A great business presentation leaves the audience fulfilled, informed and inspired, therefore, keep the audience in mind when you prepare your presentation. Identify their knowledge level on the topics you’ll be covering, and depending on their level of knowledge, either proceed with simple explanations or include supporting details. Know your audience as a group—what are their motivations? Why should they care about what you’re presenting on? What’s in it for their organization? Clarify these objectives before presentation day and tailor your presentation accordingly. 

Know your audience’s communication style when you put your presentation together. Understand if they prefer a big picture or details, formal or informal language, and direct or indirect communication. If you know you’ll be presenting to a non-native English-speaking audience, simplify your language, avoid casual expressions, pace yourself and enunciate clearly so that you can be best understood.

When designing your presentation, start by collecting your information. Brainstorm the questions your presentation should answer, look for themes and outliers in your presentation and then circle back to the research board to fill in any informational gaps you find. Then, organize your presentation by creating logical appeal. Move from introduction to point to sub-point to related second point and so on until the conclusion and then the Q&A. This helps your audience grasp the message.

Designing your slides is important to avoid information overload—create a template with a consistent theme, leave plenty of white space for content and make your titles short and relevant. Use the space you have effectively with simple bullet points and work through the presentation at a reasonable pace. In your content, include only what the audience should retain. Brainstorm possible questions and answers that could come up in your Q&A.

When preparing to deliver your presentation, practice makes perfect.  If possible, rehearse in the location where you’ll be presenting and with the same technology you’ll use on presentation day.  Practice within the allotted time including Q&A. Watch your body language and tone to make sure you present confidently. Sharpen your skills by getting constant feedback, and then practice more. On the day of your presentation, interact with your audience in an energetic and impactful way. 

When you keep your audience’s values, goals and communication styles in mind and practice, you can create and give a compelling, informative business presentation.