Effective business presentations

Our brains are hardwired for specific types of content. Visuals are more engaging—and work faster—than words.

Effective business presentations

To learn more about concept maps, visit Mind Tool's Mind Maps: A Powerful Approach to Note-Taking.

If You're a Student

Practicing your presentation Consider using charts, graphs, maps, images, pictures, handouts, video, and music to enhance your presentation. You might use a microphone, chalkboard, whiteboard, overhead projector, slide projector, laptop, presentation software, or other equipment or material to help get your point across.

Visit our PowerPoint tutorials to learn more about Microsoft's powerful presentation software. When using presentational aids, make sure you know how to use them. Practice setting them up and operating them to get an idea of the time it will take. The more you practice, the more confident and polished your presentation will become.

There are several ways to improve your presentation: When you practice, use your notes until you are comfortable without them. Your delivery should be natural.

Remember, you're talking to the audience, not reading your notes. To become aware of your gestures, vocal pitch, facial expressions, and general delivery, video yourself giving the presentation. If you don't have access to such equipment, use a tape recorder or practice in front of a mirror.

Ask others to listen to you give your presentation. When finished, ask for constructive feedback. Last-minute tips Visualize yourself giving the presentation. Realize that the audience wants you to succeed.

Turn your nervousness into positive energy. Talk rather than read. Speak at a volume appropriate to the room and size of the audience. Your voice should be heard in the back of the room. Vary the pitch of your voice. Stand up rather than sit.

Make sure any aid you use can be clearly heard and seen by the entire audience. Focus on main arguments. Don't remain behind the podium. Move around occasionally, but don't pace.

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Smile and gesture when appropriate. Maintain energy and enthusiasm throughout the presentation. Finish your talk within the time limit.

Summarize your talk both at the beginning and at the end. Respond to audience needs, such as adjusting temperature or providing extra handouts.

Be flexible, but stay focused. Give the audience an opportunity to critique your presentation by supplying them with a short, anonymous evaluation form. Don't give an important presentation without on-site technical support.

Assume that your technical equipment will fail, and have a backup plan. Beware of connecting to the Internet during your presentation. You never know when your connection may fail. Toastmasters International is an organization that focuses on improving oral presentation and communication skills.

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effective business presentations

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