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8 Secrets to a Knockout Business Presentation

You can give a great business presentation. Really.

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The presentation is starting. Dim the lights. Time for a nap. These are the thoughts of many audiences subject to yet another boring business presentation. How can you awaken the cognitive powers of your audience? Start by learning the 8 secrets of a knockout business presentation.

Dig Deep: Having an effective business presentation that will have the audience on their feet requires more than the usual factoid dropped into your PowerPoint. Find a relevant fact beyond your topic norm. Give them the unexpected. The one obscure and contradictory piece of information that will raise heads and stimulate discussion. Where do you find such information? Go past the typical quick search engine scan. Check out educational websites for new research, interview industry mavericks, or scour the business press.

Avoid Info Overload:

PowerPoint expert Cliff Atkinson, author of Beyond Bullet Points says, "When you overload your audience, you shut down the dialogue that's an important part of decision-making." He points to some important research by educational psychologists. "When you remove interesting but irrelevant words and pictures from a screen, you can increase the audience's ability to remember the information by 189% and the ability to apply the information by 109%," recommends Atkinson.

Practice Delivery:

A knockout business presentation is so captivating it makes you forget about the speaker and become absorbed in the talk. Practice your delivery over and over until you remove the distractions including nervous tics and uncomfortable pauses. Pay particular attention to your body language. Is it non-existent or overly excessive? Good presenters work the stage in a natural manner.

Forget Comedy:

Business presenters will flirt with the temptation to deliver the stand up humor of Chris Rock. Remember your audience didn't come to laugh; this is a business presentation. Leave your jokes at home. It's ok to throw in a few natural off the cuff laughs but don't overdo it.

Pick Powerful Props:

You don't need a box full of props like the watermelon-smashing comic, Gallagher. A few simple props to demonstrate a point can be memorable in the minds of your target audience. Management guru, Tom Peters, uses a cooking timer to show how quickly factory expansion is occurring in China.

Minimize You:

"Frankly, your audience doesn't care as much about your company history, as they do about whether you can help them solve the specific problems they face. Write a script for your presentation that makes the audience the protagonist, or the main character, who faces a problem that you will help them to solve," says Atkinson.

Speak the Language:

A knockout business presentation doesn't leave people wondering what you said. It might be tempting to throw in a few big words but are you alienating your audience? Always explain terms and acronyms. The number of smart executives who aren't up on the latest terminology would surprise you.

Simple Slides:

Beware of the PowerPoint presentation. Many corporate brains will turn off at the sight of yet another PowerPoint presentation. Over 400 million desktops currently have the PowerPoint application. If you want your business to stand out, don't be like everyone else. Use slides in your knockout presentation to highlight and emphasize key points. Don't rely on your slide projector to run the show.

It all comes down to what your audience walks away with in the end. Did you deliver another boring business presentation? Or did you persuade or motivate everyone to action? Apply the 8 secrets to a knockout presentation and watch your ratings soar.

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