Effective Business Presentations

You are about to start your pitch–it may be for capital you need for your business, a joint venture with a large company or a new product being presented to an important client.

A good presentation starts with a joke, right?


While Pundits tell you that “ground breaking” is essential and a great way to break ground in a meeting is some light hearted wit–forget that advice! There are far better techniques to, as they say, “break the ice”. Here are a few:

  1. Ask about whether your guests need water or beverage–or better still make sure they have them.
  2. Ask about their roles in the company (i.e. if you do not already know).
  3. Other topics like sports, weather, latest announcement from the Federal Reserve and even Junior’s baseball game the night before are a better topic than a joke. Why? Because jokes can hit a sensitive nerve and may come off badly. It takes one person in the meeting to be uncomfortable with your joke to ruin the ambience and goodwill you want.

So what are some of the fundamentals that permeate through all good presentations?

1. Practice – No matter how good you are in your subject matter, you need to practice as a presenter, not as an expert–surprisingly just like many great music teachers do not make it as a performer, many experts make poor presenters. So practice your lines, your timing, your stance and your “Gaps”–more on Gaps later.

2. Pace – Pace should be lively and directionally forward, but not hasty.

3. No skipping – imagine saying to the audience–we are going to skip over next five slides–WRONG MOVE! Why have these in the presentation if you are not going to talk about it and worse, why have them when you don’t think they are important?

4. Leave time for questions and answers. Space them so there is no “barrage”.

5. Make the presentation human and real life. Long theories and expostulations belong in classroom not in business conferences.

6. A quick technique to liven up the pace. Pick someone to “respond” to your question if you are greeted with silence. You will be amazed how others sit up and take interest once the ball starts rolling on questions and answers.

7. Keep the discussion focused on the presentation and what the subject matter is. Diversions should be relevant to the topic at hand.

8. While opinions differ on content here is a good template for a presentation:

  • Opening page–who is making the presentation and to whom and a one liner on the subject matter
  • Executive summary
  • Brief recitation of topics to be covered
  • Index of presentation slides
  • Body of discussion
  • Sales pitch which includes competitive positioning, product superiority, “why us” pitch and stats

Good luck!

Preparing a Winning Presentation

· Know your subject: You are the expert.

o Experience: build on your experiences, share with them

o Knowledge: know your subject matter better than the audience.

o Research: learn new facts or information to include.

o Practical Application: help the audience apply what they are learning

· Understand the Purpose: Know What is to be Accomplished

o Selling an idea, concept, project, product

o Informing a group, management, co-workers, customers, others

o Requesting action such as approval for a new concept, change, projects

o Status Reporting such as providing understanding of ‘where we are’ with a task or project

o Other?

· Create the Content: Plan the Content Carefully

o Title: Descriptive of the presentation

o Overview: Let the audience know what to expect

o Organize the Presentation

- Title

- Overview

- Main Points (content)

- Summary

- Action items if appropriate

- Final review

o Content: Stick to the subject, do not expand beyond the topic at hand.

- Keep it simple

- Slides need to convey information, not an exercise in creativity

- Keep words to a minimum on each slide

- Organize your materials

- Do not over power the audience with too many slides

- Remember, it is about content not ‘glitzy’ slides

- Think of any negative objections and preclude them with your content

- Anticipate questions and answer them in your materials

o Summarize: Provide a review of key points

o Action Items: List if appropriate

· Prepare to Speak: Be ready when it is time to take to the podium.

o Practice, know your content

o Know the most important 25% so you can cut out stuff if necessary

o Claim the space, go in the conference room (or other facility) and get your materials ready before the audience arrives; verify A/V equipment works

o Check out the ‘worst seat’ in the room to be sure everyone can see and hear

o Practice, know your content (yes, it’s here twice!)

· Deliver Your Presentation With Confidence: You have prepared.

o You are properly prepared and have claimed the space as yours

o Maintain eye contact with the audience

o Breathe and relax, get ‘the butterflies to fly in formation’ if they won’t go away

o Speak clearly and use the microphone if one is available

o Smile, don’t frown

o Be careful with your hands and how you gesture

o Don’t be bound to the podium, it’s generally o.k. to move around

o Don’t read the screen! Know your stuff, speak to the audience

o Follow the old saying, “Tell’em what you’re gonna tell’em, Tell’em, Tell’em again, and Sit down” This formula is actually what was outlined above! It works.

When Negotiating, You Are Your Mind

With stock markets plummeting around the world, people losing their jobs by the hundreds of thousands, and governments stepping in and buying ownership stakes or taking over banks, times may appear to be bleak. Some would say, times are very bleak, but for the savvy negotiator, times are good, because the savvy negotiator mentally addresses negotiation opportunities from that perspective.

Some people around the world think a global recession is just around the corner. When you negotiate, how does such a thought make you feel? If you’re one of those individuals that hold such an opinion, go to that proverbial corner and look. What you’ll find is mass hysteria to confirm the beliefs you possess. I say that to say, your perception will become your reality.

As of this writing, 89% of Americans feel the U.S. is going in the wrong direction, while 7% feel everything is rosy and the country should continue on the path that it’s on. Once again, it’s the mental aspect you possess that shapes your paradigm. For those of you keeping track of the math, you’ll note the above two figures add up to 96%. The other 4% are clueless as to what’s going on. Again, it’s your mental state of mind that shapes your paradigm. When you negotiate understand what promotes you to do what you do and consider …

1.   Before entering into a negotiation, check your mental state of mind to be sure you’re mentally fit to address the situation you’re about to encounter. If you’re not mentally prepared to negotiate, you’ll do yourself and your negotiation position an injustice by mentally performing the equivalent of sleepwalking through the negotiation.

2.   Before the negotiation starts, psyche yourself up. You know yourself better than anyone. Find your magical mental buttons that need to be pushed and push the heck out of them. Do what it takes to become mentally engaged in order to prepare for the negotiation.

3.   Look for all the positive benefits that can come from the negotiation and use those thoughts as sources of motivation. Realize that negativity can also be a positive occurrence in a negotiation. If you’re fearful of the negativity that can come from the negotiation, sooth yourself by thinking of what you can do to offset such emotions. Then, prepare for anything that you might perceive as negative and determine how you can turn it into a positive aspect for your negotiation position.

4.   In the U.S., when the government infused banks with billions of dollars,  banking officials were told to sign the document accepting the terms of the deal by which the government would inject funds into their institutions, or the government would not be so generous the next time the banks experienced troubles. Translated, if you get into trouble, the next time you’re on your own! When someone gives you an ultimatum at the negotiation table, be mentally prepared to address the situation. If you’re not prepared, be prepared to face the consequences.

In the end, when you negotiate and you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, you’ll take the required actions necessary to acquire what you want. You really have the level of control within you that’s needed to move any negotiation in the direction you wish it to go. The question then becomes, are you going to negotiate for what you want, or allow someone else to give you what they think you need? The choice is yours. If you stay mentally sharp before, during, and after a negotiation, you’ll have the control needed to achieve the outcome you seek. Thus, the sooner you mentally take control of yourself in the negotiation process, the sooner you’ll realize the outcome you seek from any negotiation … and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Lessons are …

·        If you need a reason to mentally become the negotiator you’d like to be, give yourself permission to become that person. Cast off that which prevents you from obtaining the mental state of mind that’s needed to acquire what you want from the negotiation.

·        If you have to face-off against a stronger negotiation opponent, don’t take your negotiation face off. Be mentally tough and follow your game plan. If you don’t like the deal being offered, be prepared to walk away.

·        When negotiating, always strive to understand the underlying cause of the other negotiator’s position, from a mental aspect. By doing so, you’ll gain insight into why she maintains her position and you’ll have a perspective from which to offer potential solutions to solve her problem. You’ll see progress as you progress the negotiation in the process.