May 7, 2021

The 3 Essential Characteristics of a Powerful Presentation

Presentation skills are essential in business.

Presenting is the best way to tell a large number people who you are and what you do.

Being the presenter also positions you as an expert in your field, which will help you to attract more clients and gain more opportunities.

However, there is more to presenting than simply being able to speak confidently in front of an audience. If you want to create a powerful presentation, it should have these 3 essential characteristics:

1: Clear

No matter how passionately you talk about a topic, if your message is not clear then the audience will be lost. If you ‘ramble’ and say lots of words, they may disengage.

To make your presentation clear, focus on the following:

  1. Clear message: have a clear idea of the message you want to deliver before you start planning your presentation. Once this is clear, you will be able to plan the presentation around it.
  2. Structure: your presentation needs to be clearly structured. Divide it into three parts: introduction, main body and conclusion. I also find aiming for three main points in the main body will help you to refine your ideas and make your presentation more concise.
  3. Signposting: use ‘signposting phrases’. These are phrases that tell the audience where you are in the presentation e.g. “First, I’d like to talk about….” , “Next I want to move on to…..”
  4. Pronunciation: check the pronunciation of keywords. Make sure these are clear or else your message will be lost.
  5. Pace and Pausing: we often speak quickly when we are nervous but this can make your message unclear. Speak at a steady pace and pause after important points to give the audience time to process them.

2: Engaging

You could be saying really interesting points but if they are not delivered in an engaging way,  your audience will switch off and won’t remember your important message.

You can make your presentation more engaging by:

(a) Using a ‘hook’: this is something you say at the beginning of the presentation to get the audience’s attention right from the very beginning. This could be a story which relates to the topic, a question to the audience, or an interesting or shocking fact or statistic.

(b) Link back to the hook in the conclusion: however you ‘hooked’ your audience’s attention at the beginning, relate back to this at the end. This is a memorable way to finish your presentation and will help to ensure your main message is remembered. Getting the audience involved in some way will help to engage them.

(c) Delivery: vary the intonation of your voice. If you speak in one tone, the audience will become bored and switch off no matter how interesting the content is. Make eye contact with the audience and use gestures to help demonstrate your points.

(d) Use images: if you use a PPT, don’t write too many words on the slides but do use images. These will help to engage more visual people but will not distract from what you are saying.

(e) Use examples and stories: these help to engage the audience and will illustrate and support your points very clearly. After a presentation, it is usually the examples and the stories that people remember.

3: Authentic

Being yourself is essential if you want to connect with the audience. This will help the audience to warm to you and so will want to listen to what you are saying.

  1. Don’t worry about making mistakes
  2. Be the best more elevated version of yourself and smile
  3. Use real-life examples
  4. Use humour as this will help your audience to relax and engage (but don’t be controversial in your humour; a joke about the weather is enough!)
  5. Be open about flaws or counter-arguments. This will make your points or arguments more convincing. If something is too polished or one-sided, it won’t feel believable.

So if you need to deliver a presentation but you are not sure where to start, be sure to focus on these 3 characteristics and you will be on your way to delivering a powerful presentation.

For more help with presentation skills and other business communication skills, join the Speaking Skills for Business Success programme. Click here for more details and to book your pre-programme consultation.