How to Write a Business Presentation

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A successful business presentation is written with the audience in mind.
A successful business presentation is written with the audience in mind. (Image: Financial report image by janaka Dharmasena from Fotolia.com)

A business presentation is an opportunity to inform, demonstrate, persuade, and sell your ideas to an audience.That audience may be from your own organization or from outside your company. In either case your presentation needs to be clear and focused and have an obvious conclusion or call to action. Whether you are preparing a report, or a script for a verbal presentation, the starting point is writing a sound and logical outline.

Be clear about who your audience will be and their likely level of knowledge. Assuming that your audience will know certain facts can be a recipe for disaster if they don’t. But if they do, you risk boring them. If you are uncertain, aim for the middle-ground and prepare additional material (as appendices) in case you need it to explain certain points.

Decide exactly what your purpose is in making the presentation. For example, depending on whether you want to inform or persuade, you may wish to include different types of information and a greater or lesser amount of detail. You may need to include background credentials for yourself and your organization if you are preparing the presentation for an external market.

Prepare an outline structure. This will be heavily influenced by the time or length available to you. Start by listing the one key point that you want to get across. Now decide on a maximum of three to six other significant section heads to support and elaborate on this. Decide at the outset how these points fit together logically. Aim for a coherent and seamless flow from one area to the next throughout.

List explanatory bullet points under each of these section heads. This is where you can provide more or less detail depending on the time or length available. Again, try keep to a maximum of three points under each. Any more and the audience will start to lose interest.

Add examples to demonstrate each concept or area. Real-life case studies, stories and research findings bring your presentation to life and help people engage with the facts. Refer back to the point you are illustrating at the end of each example.

Introduce diagrams and models to summarize information, practices or theories.Use them as a focus for further explanation. They will help people see how different aspects of information fit together.

Write an introduction and summary. Only prepare these once you have written the rest of your presentation. The introduction should highlight the key points of what your presentation is going to cover. The summary should refer back to the content. It should also act as a final reminder of what you want the audience to take away from your presentation.

Provide references and contact details. Depending on how and where you are presenting you may wish to use your written presentation as the basis of a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation. If so, provide printed copies of the presentation or your written paper to the audience.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ask a colleague or friend to proof read your written presentation to check for errors.
  • Once you have written your presentation, try and summarize it in one paragraph without referring back to it. Now compare that with what you had intended to say and check that there is a good match.
  • Use plain English and simple sentence construction. Define key terms so that the audience is clear exactly what you are talking about.
  • Use an interesting fact or anecdote at the very start of your presentation to capture people's attention.?

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References

  • How to make a point in just a minute. Phillip Khan-Panni, How-to Books Ltd, 2004.
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