Strategies for an Effective Business Presentation

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation at a local SCIP chapter meeting on social networking tools and their applications in competitive intelligence. I offered to speak on the subject after writing an article for Competitive Intelligence magazine. At the time it seemed like a great idea. After all, the article would serve as a fine outline for a presentation, right?

As I began to put the presentation together, I started to think about what kind of approach I wanted to take:

  1. There’s the typical business presentation approach. You use the template your company has put together, and you fill the slides with lots of bullet points, with the occasional graph to break things up. This usually results in pretty boring presentations, with many mind-numbing slides that look a lot alike. However, when someone asks for the presentation, they have all the info that was conveyed.
  2. There’s the opposite end of the spectrum – the Beyond Bullets approach. This is a highly structured approach that works extremely well for persuasive presentations. I’m pretty sure the author, Cliff Atkinson, would suggest that all presentations are persuasive. The gist is that there should be very few words per slide, and graphics and photos should be used to convey the concepts. I’ve found that while it does make for memorable and entertaining presentations, when I get asked to send a copy to someone they inevitably come back and ask for the notes – i.e. everything I said 😉

This time I decided to take a hybrid approach. I skipped the company template, but still had many slides that were text – black text on a white background. I didn’t go less than about 24 point type. However, I broke up the various sections with colorful photos, and wherever it was possible and made sense I put in screenshots, graphs, etc.

The result was well-received, with about 50% of the attendees asking for copies of the presentation. So if you’re considering strategies for an effective business presentation, and you’re stuck between the old corporate standby and new wave presentation styles, try going in between.

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