How to give effective business presentations without relying on PowerPoint

How to give effective business presentations without relying on PowerPoint

Whether you are presenting a new project to your department team, unveiling a company wide initiative to employees, pitching a potential customer or presenting a topic at a conference or seminar, how you deliver your material can be just as important as what you’re presenting.

Using PowerPoint to make a presentation at a small company or to a small group of employees can often be overkill. Here are tips for creating effective group presentations without making PowerPoint (or any other presentation software) the main focal point of your talk.

  1. Start with your finish

    The key to an effective presentation is not telling your audience what you want them to hear, it’s telling them what they want to hear. That’s usually a solution to a problem or a way for them to take advantage of an opportunity.

    Always start a presentation by sharing the final benefit people will get from listening to your talk. For example, if you are introducing a new online tool your company will be using for employees to submit expense reports, you might begin with, “We will be using a new system for submitting expense reports that will make it easier for you to file reimbursement requests and help you get your money quicker.” The rest of the talk will focus on how to submit the information using the new software.

    Starting your talk with, “I’m going to show you the process for filling out our new online expense request form,” doesn’t excite people about the talk because you’re telling them what you want from them, not the benefit they will get from using the new process.

  2. Use props

    When appropriate, use props to enhance your talk. This could be a product you’re discussing, samples of competitors’ marketing materials or another item that makes a point about a concept you’re trying to explain. Don’t get gimmicky—use items that are relevant to your audience or explain your point.

  3. Vary your media

    Even if you can present all of your information on one flip chart or dry-erase whiteboard, you’ll avoid monotony if you move from one medium to another throughout your presentation. Weave enlargements, props, video and the internet throughout your talk.

  4. Make enlargements

    If you have an office copy machine or are close to a quick copy shop, make enlargements of your data, website screen shots, company print ads or other visuals you’ll use. The information will be easier to see and make more of an impact, especially with people who are sitting in the back of the room. Make the enlargements big enough so everyone in the room can see them and you can call out specific items on the page to make a point.

    Mount enlargements on cardboard if you’ll be holding them up or want to put them on a traditional easel. You can tape them to the wall or to a dry-erase whiteboard in a meeting room if you want them displayed throughout your talk.

  5. Use data

    Use bar charts, graphs and pie charts to let people see your information, rather than just hear or read it. For example, providing a breakdown of sales by percentages will have a bigger impact if people can see a visual representation of how much each revenue segment compares to others. This is a good place to use enlargements or pre-written flip chart pages. If you’ll be in a smaller room with just a few people around a table, try an easel binder for a convenient tabletop presentation.

  6. Add some digital visuals

    It’s OK to use a few slides for your presentations to discuss one area of your talk. Turn on the screen and show the visuals only when you’re using the information, then turn off the machine and move on to the next part of your talk.

  7. Go online

    Take advantage of information or data on the web for one part of your talk. This can include a comparison of your company’s website to your competitors’, or a graph or chart from a relevant website. You can ask everyone to open a URL on their phone to make a point about how your customers are likely to view your company’s or your competitors’ digital information. Test the room for connectivity before your presentation, and have a Plan B ready in the event you can’t connect during your meeting.

  8. Try video

    Smartphones allow almost anyone to make interesting videos to demonstrate a product or make a demonstration. A small group is not expecting you to put lots of time and money into your presentation, so making a video on your phone can be an effective way to add to your talk. Practice presenting the video once before your meeting so you know it will be easily visible in the room you’ll be using to show attendees your content.

  9. Add another voice

    If possible, break up your presentation by asking another team member to present one of the sections. Your fellow presenter can add some of her own unique insights and take questions from the group.

  10. Manage the room

    Regulate your room lighting and temperature to make the setting more comfortable, which will help keep people’s attention. If you turn off the lights at any time during your presentation, your attendees brains will likely start releasing more of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin (a brain function that occurs in darkness), making your attendees drowsy. This is especially problematic if they’ve also just eaten lunch. Start the room with a bit cooler temperature setting than normal if it will be packed with people. Their body heat will quickly raise the temperature in the room.


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