What You Need To Do To Create An Amazing Business Presentation

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and PowerPoint presentations. Let's face it, there has or will be a moment where you will have to give a 20 minute presentation to your bosses, colleagues, potential clients, or an audience. Putting together an interesting and visually pleasing presentation that will wow everyone is easier said than done, but with a little bit of thought and advanced preparation, it's more than achievable.

What You Should Consider

Who Is Your Audience?

Who exactly are you giving the presentation to? Adults? Kids? People within your profession? People outside it? A general audience? This will determine how complex or simple your presentation is, whether you can use jargon or phrases and how complex or simplistic your stats and figures are, provided they feature in your presentation.

Settle On A Topic

Most times, you're given free rein as to what you should discuss, but if not, choose a main topic and stick to it. Not only is going off the point annoying for those listening, but it will make your presentation much longer than it needs to be, which isn't of benefit to you or your audience. Also, consider what you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Knowing that will also give your talk focus and will make it easier to write up.

Write A Rough Script

While it sometimes isn't possible to write a complete script, you should at least try and prepare a rough idea of what you're going to say. Doing this will better frame the presentation in your mind, will ensure that you know what you're going to say and will give it a structure. If you have the time (and the presentation is relatively short), write out a proper script. It will certainly come in useful, especially if you're not used to giving them.

Give Yourself Ample Time To Prepare

Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail so don't leave things until the last minute. If you have a week to prepare, dedicate roughly an hour each day to writing it up. That way, you spread out the workload and completing it becomes less daunting.

Take The Time To Design Your Slides

While a presentation is mostly based upon the speaker, a badly put together presentation will damage the work you've put into your talk. Don't slap something together at the last minute, take the time to create something that will resonate with your audience. Again, the talk is the most important part, but people's attention will be directed to the slides first so make sure they've something good to look at.

Keep It Simple

While there is the temptation to load up your presentation with numbers images, animations, videos and audio, don't overdo it. You want to make sure that your presentation complements what you're saying so keep the presentation clean and simple so people can take in what's being said.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more you practise, the more confident you get and the easier it is to give your talk. Fail to do that and you risk losing track of where your talk is going and might take longer to recover if this happens.

Maintain Eye Contact

When you're actually giving the presentation, make sure you're addressing your audience by looking at them and speaking to them. If you're speaking while constantly looking at the ground or your notes, you're not going to be particularly engaging and your audience will get bored. Don't worry if you have to glance down at your notes on occasion, chances are you'll only take a quick second to do so and as long as you're acknowledging your audience, you'll be fine.

Design Tips

Writing up a presentation can take some time, but you shouldn't neglect its design. While you could approach it from a number of ways, here are a few quick tips from our designer/photographer Claire Brown about making your presentation stand out.

Presentation Tools

So you have the talk written out, you have it learnt off and you're feeling confident. Now to enhance it by designing a multimedia

PowerPoint

Cost: Free trial, $117.99

Web Based: No

The 'vanilla' of presentation tools. Pretty much everyone is familiar with MS PowerPoint by now so an explanation isn't necessary. If you want quick and simple presentations, look no further.

Prezi

Cost: Free, $4.92/month, $13.25/month

Web Based: Yes

If you would like the opportunity to jazz up your presentation, then you should consider Prezi. Letting you create interactive presentations that let you zoom into different sections, it will give your talks that extra bit of dynamism.

Google Drive

Cost: Free

Web Based: Yes

Formally Google Docs, Google Drive lets you put together presentations that are on par with MS PowerPoint. It's perhaps not as versatile as the tools it takes inspiration from, but it does the job.

Keynote

Cost: €17.99 ($19.99)

Web Based: No

As part of its iWork range, Apple's presentation creator focuses on making your slides as vibrant and as visually pleasing as possible. With HD graphics, some impressive graphic tools and simple to use animation tools, you can create some impressive presentations. The only thing that may put people off is its price tag.

280 Slides

Cost: Free

Web Based: Yes

A Google Chrome extension, 280 Slides has a clean interface that makes creating presentations a cinch. What's also useful about this is that it lets you upload and include movies and videos from the likes of YouTube, which is always handy.

Empressr

Cost: Free

Web Based: Yes

Empressr describes itself as a rich media presentation tool, allowing you to add photos, music, video and audio to your presentations. You can import images from sites like Google, Flickr, Yahoo and Photobucket. A handy feature is its analytics which show you how long somebody has interacted with your slides, useful as there are many ways to share your presentations.

SlideRocket

Cost: Free, $24/month, $360/month

Web Based: Yes

Not only does SlideRocket allow you to import PowerPoint presentations, but it allows you to work from a number of devices including desktop, iPad and iPhone. You can collaborate presentations with other coworkers and incorporate tables, pictures, audio, HD video and flash into it to enhance it.

Zoho Show 

Cost: Free

Web Based: Yes

Zoho Show lets you create clean and simple presentations from scratch and collaborate with other users. While it's basic layout may suggest it's only for straightforward presentations, Zoho Show allows you to create some eye-catching images and animations to help get your message across.

Slideshare

Cost: Free

Web Based: Yes

Acquired by LinkedIn near the start of the year, Slideshare has a number of features that make it stand out, like embedding mp3 audio and video into your slides. It's also available on smartphone and tablets too so you can access presentations wherever you go.

AuthorSTREAM

Cost: Free

Web Based: Yes

Not a presentation creator, but a useful tool all the same. authorSTREAM lets you upload PowerPoint presentations online and embed them into your site. These presentations can also be downloaded as a video and shared on YouTube so that more people can marvel at your handiwork.

Case Studies

So you have everything you could need to create a brilliant presentation, but maybe you're the type of person who prefer to follow some examples so here are a few standout presentations that you can take inspiration from.

You Suck At PowerPoint!

A brilliantly creative slideshow from Jesse Deshardins, highlighting the mistakes people make when designing slides. A great example of how clean design, distinctive images and a focused message can make all the difference.

Presentation On Presentations

To give an example of how dynamic and involving the Prezi presentations are, here is a helpful slideshow which shows you how to wow your audience.

Jamie Oliver

Presentations isn't about the slides and stats, it about the person conveying them. One good example of this is Jamie Oliver's TED talk back in 2010, which is a perfect fusion of slides, multimedia and a great speaker.

Jordan McDonnell's Alternative CV

Slideshows isn't always about speaking, it's about conveying a message and telling a story. Jordan McDonnell wanted to go into a more creative industry, but hadn't the necessary experience. That didn't stop him from putting together this fantastic Slideshare CV that ultimately landed him a job at Twitter.

Boring To Bold - Presentation Design Ideas for Non-Designers

With a whopping 83 slides, Michael Gowin's presentation might look like it will take a while to read through, but you will get through them much faster than expected thanks to its clever images, simple design and the realisation that good design will tell a better story than text ever could.

10 Commandments For Great Presentations

There is a simple set of rules to follow to make your presentation stand out, and this one from Effect Works shows how keeping it simple can work wonders.

SEOMOZ - Making Presentations Better

Having given numerous presentations over the last number of year, Rand Fishkin gives his tips on making your presentation stand out from the crowd.