When making a business presentation, knowledge is essential, but how you present information is important as well. Here are 8 tips to hone your presentation skills.
1. Know your audience
It is important to know who will be attending your presentation for a number of reasons. This will help you choose a suitable presentation template, know how to dress appropriately, understand their level of knowledge, decide the best approach, and anticipate questions.
2. Avoid bullet points
It is well known that long strings of text are a terrible option for presentations. This would make your audience divided between listening to you and reading all the material that is on your slides, which can be overwhelming or simply boring.
Despite being better than endless sentences, bullet points aren’t the most effective presentation technique. If you don’t use audio and images to reinforce your point, the information will probably get lost.
This is not just random advice–it is actually supported by research. Individuals who are exposed to visual information pay significantly more attention and can better recall it than people who see a bulleted list version of the same information. Presentations with visuals are certainly more effective than text-only presentations.
When you really need to use text, keep it simple. Avoid using more than three bullet points per slide. This way, your audience will spend less time multitasking by reading and trying to understand your message. Your presentation will be more pleasant and less tiresome.
3. Avoid too much information
Though numbers and data can help you validate the point you are trying to make, using too many charts and graphs will not be effective either. Your audience will probably forget most of the information. A better approach is to combine stories, concrete examples, and metaphors to present your information.
Make your slides brief, visually engaging, and easy to understand.
4. Use comparisons
Connect your data to real life examples. Use your creativity and try to tie the information you are presenting to things we observe in our daily life.
For example: instead of simply saying that a machine is able to lift 10 tons, mentioning that this corresponds to 20 adult elephants, and actually presenting a picture of 20 elephants, will be much more memorable.
Comparisons are a powerful way to boost your presentation and make your audience retain information.
5. Limit your key points
Select a few key messages you want your audience to remember, and make sure to mention them regularly during your presentation. Talking about them only once or twice is not enough.
6. Formatting matters
Keep slides as clean as possible and use fonts that are easy to read. Make sure there is good contrast between text and background.
Do not use uppercase when it’s not necessary. Typing in all caps is perceived by many as yelling and it’s considered unprofessional.
7. Record yourself practicing
Whenever possible, record practice presentations. This will make you much more aware of your body language and non-verbal communication.
Pay attention to your facial expressions, posture, gestures, movements, and tone of voice. Take notes of what can be improved and gradually work on it. If possible, ask for feedback from a colleague.
Wrap up your presentation by summarizing the take away points. No matter how effective your presentation was, humans need repetition to memorize information. Don’t waste the chance to repeat your main message at the end.
If you have to make a presentation to an audience of non-native English speakers, consider having your presentation translated into their native language. Not only does this show you care about your audience, but it also helps you build rapport and make your message more meaningful and easily understood.
We understand that speaking another language is a very time-consuming process, but hiring a professional to translate marketing material and presentations is a quick and affordable way to make your target audience more satisfied and engaged. After all,
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.
If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
- Nelson Mandela
If you are in doubt whether translating your material would be useful or not, just give it a try. The results will surprise you.
 Kernbach, S., Eppler, M. J., & Bresciani, S. (2015). The Use of Visualization in the Communication of Business Strategies: An Experimental Evaluation. International Journal of Business Communication, 52(2), 164–187. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488414525444
Matheus R. Chaud
I am a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker with extensive experience in translation, proofreading, editing, subtitling, and quality assurance.