Putting It Together: Developing and Delivering Business Presentations

Let’s return to your presentation for SB ’18 and assume you were able to power through your doubts and accept the call. Now that you have a solid understanding of presentation tools, options and techniques, let’s put it all together.

Creating a good presentation involves research and analysis, reflection and distillation. As is true of many things in life, the process will go more smoothly if you start with the end in mind. Prior to putting words on paper/slides, address the three presentation planning priorities: purpose, audience and message. These three priorities will determine (or at least inform) your content, presentation tools, and techniques. Note: Message—the idea you want to communicate—is singular, not plural. Think simple, clear and compelling.

Photograph of Hands, at the Cave of the Hands. The cave painting appears as if the creators placed their hands on the wall and painted around them, leaving negative unpainted space where their hands once were.

Figure 1. We are all storytellers

In addition to keeping your end (your desired outcome or audience action) in mind, you need to consider your audience’s desired outcome. As Theodore Roosevelt noted: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” And speaking of care, do your audience a favor and invest at least as much time in the design of your slides as the selection of your words. Remember that communication in whatever format is a fundamentally human interaction; invest your presentation with your personality: your passion, your point of view and your sense of humor (if you have one).

Finally, before going live, test drive your presentation. Ask colleagues, friends or family to listen to a dry run and rate you on the presentation evaluation criteria. In particular, identify and address any words or images that may represent a barrier to effective communication.

Let go of the memories of bad presentations—and reject the default choices and templates that contribute to ugly slides and ineffective presentations. Think of the many stories that have engaged you and that you have told over the years and channel that energy when you get up to speak.

The art of storytelling

If you’re interested in learning more on about cultivating your innate storytelling skills, you can check out Pixar’s The Art of Storytelling on Kahn Academy.