Now is the time to kick start your marketing strategy. It’s time to decide on the smartest, most cost effective means of improving your presence and drawing in more customers. If you engage in online and in-person marketing, or intend to do so this year, a great way to accomplish this is by creating a powerful, amazing presentation for your company.
Where to Begin: Determining the Purpose of a Company Presentation
Company presentations are designed for multiple audiences: the general audience, senior management, even venture capitalists. They are effective tools for reducing internal conflict and increasing external sales. While many of us see such presentations as powerful internal tools, not many recognize them as potent external marketing tools.
A company presentation is more than a compilation of PowerPoint slides; according to eHow, a commanding business presentation can be a useful tool designed to inform, persuade, motivate and even celebrate a brand or company. Sounds a lot like the key points of your best marketing campaigns, doesn’t it?
When a Presentation Goes Viral…
…magic happens! Well, let’s be more specific: magic in the form of comprehensive, hard hitting marketing to a potentially enormous audience occurs. We experienced the fruits of a presentation uploaded to Slideshare going viral. Thousands of views equaled thousands of new and potential customers reading about a topic concerning them, all while taking in a memorable image of our company and services.
If our experience has taught us anything, it’s that creating and showcasing an influential company presentation is a huge marketing tool too many companies fail to tap into. Don’t make that mistake in 2014. Instead, tap into our guide to creating a powerful company presentation:
Step 1: Establish Credibility
Wikipedia defines credibility as believability. In fact, Wikipedia states, “Credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components.” The faster you establish credibility, the more likely your audience is to listen or continue reading. It’s important to understand that credibility doesn’t need to be displayed in lengthy and overly detailed career or industry highlights. Instead, opt for a short story or experience highlighting a selection of your background related to the presentation’s topic.
Credibility is incredibly vital online. It has become an increasingly covered topic since the mid-1990s when the web began growing in leaps and bounds as an information resource. This is why Forbes encourages you to “make a point of establishing credibility—don’t just hope it happens,” as one of several essential tips to creating more powerful business presentations.
Step 2: Include a Goal
What’s the purpose of your presentation? What can the audience expect? How is it relevant and useful to them? Your presentation should spotlight this goal right from the start. Think of it as establishing common ground with your audience. Once you’re both on the same page, motivating them to specific action will become much easier.
Step 3: Sprinkle in Supporting Material
Supportive material helps hold credibility throughout the presentation. It lets the audience know you’re presenting facts, not biased opinions. References needn’t be included in the slides themselves if they threaten to clutter the visual esthetic of your presentation. However, they should at least be found in your speaking notes. You can sprinkle supporting material throughout your presentation by:
- Telling a story or real life experience.
- Giving statistics or referencing a supporting case study.
- Referencing research material.
- Providing a quote from a well-respected figure.
Step 4: Wield Quotations and Images
Quotations and images have the ability to make a memorable impact. Wield them to separate each topic or idea within your presentation. These tools are ideal for evoking a topic without defaulting to boring title slides most viewers will rarely, if ever, remember.
Visualization is one of the key qualities that set a presentation apart from word-based, content marketing strategies (such as Whitepages). A picture can be worth a thousand words, and it often leaves an emotional impression on the audience, linking them more intimately with the content. Never skimp on images when creating your company presentation. If you find yourself struggling with the visual aspect of your presentation, then take a close look at our “How To” on adding visualization to content.
Step 5: Leverage Questions
Questions are powerful. They can be thought-provoking tools that encourage your audience to draw guided conclusions. A rhetorical question is the perfect tool to leverage when launching your presentation. It gets the audience thinking, putting them in the middle of the action from the get go. Leveraging questions at intervals throughout your presentation will keep the audience involved, and this tactic will help motive action.
As you create your presentation, think of your audience. What questions are they likely to ask? What questions will hold or pique their interest? Always be sure to answer the questions posed. If you dangle a question and fail to provide a satisfactory answer, you will quickly lose your audience.
Step 6: Startle Your Audience
Failing to create a powerful presentation can damage your business’ content marketing strategies, leaving you with an untapped pool of potential business.
This statement just grabbed your attention, didn’t it? Suddenly, you’re rethinking the last PowerPoint presentation you created. You’re analyzing its effectiveness and trying to determine if this startling statement is true. Did you lose a prime marketing opportunity because of a poorly put together presentation?
One of the most effective ways to grab attention is to present your information with a startling statement. Such statements carry a twofold benefit of demanding attention while driving your point home with the supportive information we discussed in Step 3. Together, a startling statement and supportive information create the perfect catalyst for keeping audience attention, delivering your message and motivating action.
Step 7: Prepare for a Q&A
If you’ve inserted a clear goal into your presentation, wielded quotations and images, leveraged questions and startled your audience with shocking statements, you’ve successfully kept them engaged. You’ve guided them to action and motivated them to actually take that action. But your job isn’t finished quite yet.
It’s important to prepare for a brief question and answer segment following the presentation. The key to a successful Q&A session is to prepare for the tough questions:
- Consider the questions that may arise, particularly the hard to answer ones, the ones that will threaten to knock your presentation off course and sabotage your goal.
- Think about objections the audience might raise or how they may question your main points and the information you present.
- Be prepared to justify statements, address concerns, and reinforce your most critical points should an expert question your subject matter.
Step 8: Prepare Your Own Set of Questions
When subject matter is questioned and proven, the audience develops a stronger appreciation for it; its value increases. The ability of your subject matter to withstand pointed objections increases your credibility, and therefore the image projected by your company is one of trust and expertise. Regardless of whether your presentation is geared toward a public or focused business clientele, you need to block out time for a Q&A segment. We discussed a basic Q&A strategy in Step 7, but what if no one poses a question?
On the rare occasion that your audience is too shy to present questions (and rest assured, this is rare), be prepared with your own set of questions. You can ease into the Q&A with leading statements like:
- “You might be wondering…”
- “I’m often asked…”
- “A common concern is…”
Be sure your questions are directly related to your message and achieve your presentation goal. The Q&A portion of your presentation is a strategy that should seal the deal with your audience, giving them that last push to take the action you desire. And remember: even if your audience jumps right into the Q&A, don’t be afraid to conclude it with your strategic questions if they haven’t been addressed.
Step 9: Conclusion, conclusion, conclusion!
You wouldn’t dream of skimping on the opener to your presentation. You know how vital it is to hook the audience immediately. Likewise, don’t dream of skimping on your presentation’s conclusion. Once the Q&A has finished, have a second closing statement ready. It should be short and concise, something of an encore. Summarize your main points and drive that key message home, especially your motivating call to action. You can use a slide for this conclusion, but many presenters find it more effective to look their audience right in the eye as they deliver it, providing a personalized and powerful touch.
A Presentation to Be Proud Of
By following the nine steps we’ve just outlined when creating your company presentation, you can be sure you’re creating a tool to be proud of. But before we set you lose on your next creation, here are some important closing tips to ponder:
- Practice Delivery. Awesome business presentations, the ones that knock it out of the ballpark, are presented with a captivating aura that makes the speaker and their message absolutely unforgettable. How do you achieve this aura? Practice! It really does make perfect. Practice the presentation until distractions don’t faze you, nervous tics don’t stand a chance of creeping in and those boringly long pauses are nonexistent. Practice in front of a mirror and examine your body language. Don’t let your gestures become overly flamboyant or disinterested. Be natural.
- Forget comedy. Your audience isn’t sitting there expecting to see a comedy act. So, resist the urge to turn the presentation into a standup routine. It’s fine to use a few natural, off the cuff laughs if your subject matter lends itself to it, but do not overdo it. Your audience didn’t come to laugh, and your presentation is for generating business.
- Go beyond the obvious. A knockout presentation isn’t a factoid in PowerPoint format; it’s going beyond the norm of your topic and giving the audience something unexpected and memorable. About.com says it perfectly: you’re searching for that “one obscure and contradictory piece of information” that holds the power to “raise heads and stimulate discussion.”
- Keep it simple. It’s all too easy to clutter a slide with images, jamming in a thought-provoking quotation and then overloading the viewer with a seemingly unending list of bulleted material. Creator, beware! About.com points out a stunning fact, more than “400 million desktops…have the PowerPoint application.” Don’t make the most common user mistake: creating slides on information steroids. Instead, use your slides to highlight and emphasize your key points. The meat of your presentation will be in your speaker notes.
- Avoid information overload. This is a tip that applies to any content marketing tool, but it is especially important for presentation. The goal of any well written presentation is to highlight useful points regarding a pristinely focused topic. Cluttering, or overloading, the presentation with a plethora of information shuts the dialogue down. Your audience will be stuck in processing mode, trying to make sense of the metric ton of information you just unloaded. This will stall their decision-making process, and as a result you’ll lose the ability to motivate the audience into taking action. Cliff Atkinson, author of Beyond Bullet Points, brings this jaw dropping fact to the table, “When you remove interesting but irrelevant words and pictures from [the presentation], you can increase the audience’s ability to remember the information by 189 percent and the ability to apply the information by 109 percent.”
- Avoid overcomplicated technobabble. Never underestimate the intelligence of your audience. You needn’t “dummy down” your information or “spoon feed” it, but it’s important not to go overboard with big words. Overcomplicated technobabble or use of fancy words not often seen in everyday speak can leave your audience feeling alienated. If you use acronyms or terms, briefly explain them. Nine times out of ten, your audience will understand the explanation immediately and you’ll have just taught them the latest terminology.
PowerPoint presentations are all too often seen as internal burdens for presenting quarterly progress reports. It’s time to see them in all their glory, as a cutting edge marketing tool for both internal and external use. General audiences can glean pointed information about the benefits of your company from a well written, well formatted presentation. They’ll be motivated to ask questions, take action and seek out further information about your business and—most importantly—bring their business your way.