How to give a highly effective business presentation: a step-by-step guide

Whether you’re presenting the key findings of a study, persuading your organization to approve a project, helping to train new employees, or looking to win capital from investors, giving effective presentations is often critical for business success.

The proper presentation can inform, motivate, inspire, and influence others to help you achieve your goals as a collective. Without the appropriate planning and execution, a presentation can be misread, uninteresting, or fail to persuade. 

So, how can you get through and ensure your presentation hits the mark? Delivering polished presentations that are highly effective requires some groundwork. We’ve created this best practice guide to help you give your next presentation easily and confidently. 

What is a business presentation? 

A business presentation is a talk to educate, persuade, or inform others on a topic or project. A presentation or keynote usually features a visual slideshow with text, images, charts, explainers, and graphs as appropriate. 

Business presentations are common for product pitches, presenting research findings, training employees, raising investment, providing information, and promoting one's services.  

Why creating effective business presentations is important 

Giving presentations is a valuable skill for many reasons, such as 

  • Sharing information: a presentation can help present research findings, key data, or essential insights that a team or the organization can act upon.
  • Clarity: presentations can help avoid teams acting in silos by promoting the sharing of essential information throughout a company.
  • Engagement: captivating presentations can boost engagement and interest in topics your audience may otherwise overlook. 
  • Persuasion: whether you’re looking for buy-in for a new project, promoting a new way of working, or hoping to win investment, the proper business presentation can persuade key people to approve.
  • Impact: if images, graphs, and charts accompany a presentation, they will have more impact than a typical explainer or proposal, better convey messages, and make information more memorable.
  • Professionalism: an effective presentation can help to show that you’re polished, well-organized, and professional. 

Types of business presentations

Various types of business presentations exist. These are some of the most common. 

Informative presentations

A common reason for creating business presentations is to inform and educate others on a particular topic. For instance, presenting data or facts, introducing a new system or product, or sharing relevant background information for a project. 

Informative presentations can also educate employees, inform stakeholders, and present facts to clients. 

Persuasive presentations

A presentation can play a crucial role when looking to convince others – perhaps to get their support for a new project or way of working, for investment, or to take specific actions. 

If your presentation is successful, it could motivate others to act on or support your ideas. 

Proposal presentations 

If your team has an innovative idea—say you’d like to create a new feature or product or aim your content at a brand new audience—you’ll likely need to propose these ideas to key stakeholders. 

A proposal presentation aims to prove that the proposed idea will be beneficial, viable, and helpful if approved.

Training presentations 

Presentations are also commonly used in the training process. Training presentations can be helpful for both new employees during the onboarding process and current employees to help them upskill and adopt best practices.

Product demonstrations 

When launching a new product, you must help your team, the broader organization, and customers understand why it’s been created and how it will be useful. 

Product demonstrations are helpful in marketing campaigns, sales presentations, and stakeholder education to promote new products and explain their key features. 

How to create an effective business presentation: step-by-step 

Need help figuring out where to get started? Our guide can help you create a presentation that will impress your audience and inspire action. 

1. Deeply understand your purpose 

Whether your goal is to persuade, motivate, or inform, clarity of purpose is essential. Is there a specific issue that you’re looking to resolve? A system that you will help employees use for better efficiency? Or a product that provides a solution for customers? 

Understanding the what, why, and how—identifying the problem, its significance, and your proposed resolution—ensures your presentation delivers meaningful, valuable content. It also makes your presentation's purpose evident to your audience.

Before proceeding, ensure you have this critical element clarified. Without it, you lack the foundation for an effective presentation. Take the time to solidify your overall purpose; it's time well spent.

2. Sketch a presentation storyboard

Rather than just diving into creating the presentation, planning beforehand can make the process more efficient. 

Developing a presentation storyboard—quickly sketched on paper or a digital tablet—will help you plan what you’ll create. You’ll soon see where information is missing, how the slides will look visually, and which elements are ultimately best to include or exclude. 

In a storyboard format, you’ll notice where slides are becoming text-heavy and where an image or chart might help to break up that text-based content. You’ll also be able to tell if the presentation is becoming too long—condensing the content at this stage will likely save you time down the line.

3. Choose the right format

A presentation is a visual tool that will help to convey your messages with impact. Therefore, to help you be as impactful as possible, consider the format carefully, including the size, font, and number of images.

One helpful trick can be to use the 10/20/30 rule. Made popular by author and business person Guy Kawasaki, the 10/20/30 rule suggests that to keep presentations brief, understandable, and easy to read, they should consist of ten slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and use a 30-point font.

According to Kawasaki, these rules are applicable for reaching any type of agreement. “If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business,” he blogs. 

If your organization has brand guidelines or a specific template, it’s best to align with that consistently. 

4. Develop a compelling introduction 

Your presentation will be one of many things your audience will see that day. They are likely busy with other projects. They may be considering other proposals. And they might have even heard other presentations before yours. The question is: how will you stand out? 

You want to draw your audience in immediately, so starting with a compelling introduction is essential—this could be a meaningful and relevant story piquing their interest or perhaps compelling insights that make them want to learn more. Your introduction is your first impression, so be sure it’s impactful.

5. Build your slides

Once the foundations are built, it’s time to start creating the slides using your preferred tools, such as Google Slides, PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, or Canva. 

Improve your slide-building skills by following these tips:

  • Make use of your storyboard: as you create the final slides, ensure you reference the original storyboard. While things are bound to change, sticking mainly to your plan will help ensure you don’t get too wordy or go off-topic.
  • Keep it simple: good presentations are easy to understand, even with complex ideas. Use simple language where possible and aim to explain complex concepts in ways a layperson can understand.
  • Aim for brevity: you may know everything there is to know about a particular topic, and you could have endless findings from research. That doesn’t mean everything should go into your presentation. Avoid fatiguing your audience by keeping your presentation short and to the point, making them more likely to remember your ideas.
  • Include imagery: endless text can lead your audience to feel disengaged. So, make your presentation compelling with imagery, graphs, and charts that explain the key points quickly and keep your audience interested.
  • Stand out: innovative business presentation ideas can help your slides stand out. Using augmented reality, audience participation, demonstrations, video content, and interactive elements can ensure your presentation doesn’t feel two-dimensional. Remember, though, that it’s best to include things that are especially relevant, not gimmicky. 

6. Use data, examples and case studies 

Providing accurate information is important if you want to be reliable and professional. Include critical insights and relevant data to back up your claims. Case studies can also help to provide context and explanation for more complex ideas – they can also be compelling for storytelling. 

However, avoiding getting too bogged down in examples when dealing with data is important. Endless research points could overwhelm your audience. Instead, opt for the most crucial examples and, if necessary, create separate presentations for unique ideas and insights. 

7. Plan your delivery

If you’ve ever watched a highly effective presentation, you may have assumed that the speaker was a naturally good presenter. And while that’s sometimes the case, more often than not, it’s because the person is well-prepared. 

To give an excellent presentation, don’t just wing it. Instead, take the time to practice and polish it. Rehearing will ensure you know your presentation well, you’re clear on what you have to say, and you won’t have to constantly refer to notes—all of which will make you a more engaging speaker. 

What if you have a fear of public speaking? The first thing to acknowledge is that you’re not alone. Many people do! To boost your skills and face your fear, you might consider attending classes run by Toastmasters (or similar), working with a public speaking coach to improve, or consistently delivering presentations to build your confidence over time.

8. Develop stage presence 

It’s also helpful to consider what’s known as “stage presence " to make your presentation impactful.” Stage presence involves developing your public speaking skills to be a compelling, persuasive, engaging, and informative speaker. 

This confident demeanor can include eye contact, using open body language, projecting your voice, and engaging with the audience. 

Some ways to have a powerful presence on stage include:

Storytelling connection: telling personal (and relevant) stories to connect with the audience. 

Humor: bringing in humor or light-heartedness to entertain your audience 

Interactive elements: interacting with the audience—such as running a live poll or leaving the stage to stand among them turns your audience into active participants.

Visual summarization: use images, video content, and charts to summarize your salient points.

Confident delivery: speaking clearly and confidently to assure your audience that you’re the right person to provide this information.

9. End with a call to action

Your presentation should include a conclusion summarizing the key points. This closing portion of your presentation will help your audience retain the information you’ve shared and bring the presentation to a natural end.

Include a call to action to ensure your audience knows how they can support you or seek more information. 

Do you want your audience to approve a project, download a digital product, or join an email list? Make sure the next step is straightforward.

You might also include a Q&A session after your presentation. 

What to include in a business presentation: a helpful checklist 

Do you need help determining whether your business presentation includes all the essential elements? 

Using our checklist before presenting can be handy. 

An effective business presentation includes: 

  • The what, why, and how: the issue, the importance of the problem, and potential solution(s) are clear.
  • A compelling introduction: you’ve used storytelling to grab the audience’s interest.
  • Data & insights: evidence backs any claims you’re making.
  • Fact-checking: before presenting, you’ve ensured that all information included is accurate, reliable, and relevant.
  • Interest: you’ve considered what interesting (and relevant) elements you can include to help your presentation stand out. 
  • Practice and polishing: you’ve practiced and polished the presentation to ensure it’s the best it can be.
  • Proofreading: the content has been proofread and run through a tool like Grammarly as a final check—typos and grammar errors can make your presentation look half-baked.
  • Formatting: meticulous formatting improves comprehension and engagement and boosts your perceived credibility as a presenter.
  • Call to action: the presentation concludes clearly with a call to action. 

Craft a more memorable story 

Ultimately, if you want to influence, motivate, and inspire, it’s critical to consider storytelling. All effective presentations are ultimately products of powerful storytelling that help the audience understand the most essential points in compelling ways. 

How can you become a more effective storyteller? At Pip Decks, we help highly effective leaders influence and inspire their teams, customers, and clients worldwide.  

To craft presentations that tell compelling stories, many high performers use our Storyteller Tactics cards to convert, inspire, and lead with confidence. 

FAQs

What do you say at the beginning of a presentation?

At the outset of a presentation, capturing your audience's attention is critical. To draw people in, begin with a compelling story, question, or a startling statistic—your "hook." 

However you choose to start, ensure it's relevant to your topic and goals by reviewing according to the following:

Relevance: establish why the topic matters to the audience, tying it to their interests or needs.

Objectives: outline what attendees will gain from the presentation, setting clear expectations.

Agenda: provide an overview of the main points or sections you'll cover, giving a roadmap for the presentation.

Connection: build rapport by briefly sharing your credentials or personal connection to the topic.

What are the ten qualities of a good presentation? 

Some core qualities of good presentations include: 

  1. Clarity: your audience should know precisely what your presentation is about. 
  2. Brevity: the presentation should include only the key and necessary points. 
  3. Imagery: it’s helpful to use high-quality imagery to keep the audience interested. 
  4. Data: include facts and figures to support any arguments you may have to boost your reliability. 
  5. Accuracy: fact-check ALL the information and data you include; otherwise, you’ll look unprofessional and misleading. 
  6. Effective delivery: engaging with the audience using stage presence principles like voice projection and open body language can help.  
  7. Relevant structure: it’s helpful to structure your presentation in a way that will make sense to the audience. 
  8. Storytelling: use case studies and compelling narratives to explain your points in the context of a story. 
  9. The 10/20/30 rule: the 10/20/30 rule suggests that presentations should have ten slides, a 20-minute duration, and a 30-point font. 
  10. A call to action: ensure your audience knows how to take the desired next steps.

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