Tips for Giving Effective Work Presentations

Whether you’re in sales, marketing, management, or HR, you’ll be called upon in your career to give presentations. And if you want to impress the people who matter and rise the ranks, you must cultivate the skill of giving effective presentations.

Best Practices for Persuasive Work Presentations

There are skills, and then there are high-income skills. A high-income skill is something that directly impacts your ability to earn money in your career. Public speaking  – and the ability to deliver powerful presentations – certainly falls into this category. 

Whether you’re a math professor, salesperson, or business owner, honing your presentation skills will shape you into a more powerful asset in your profession. The question is, how do you improve in this area?

Here are several suggestions:

  • Use These 5 Rhetorical Devices

Some 2,000 years ago, the philosopher Aristotle identified five rhetorical devices that he believed were central to public speaking and persuasion. If you can master the following, you’ll instantly catapult into the top one percent of public speakers:

  • Ethos. It’s always wise to begin by establishing your character and credibility. This helps you gain the trust of your audience, which makes it far more likely that they’ll “buy” what you’re “selling.”
  • Logos. Always use facts, data, and evidence to support what you’re asking or communicating to the audience.
  • Pathos. Sometimes it’s the way that you communicate something that has the most influence over people. If you can wrap up your big idea in a story that elicits a positive emotional reaction, you won’t have any trouble moving people to action.
  • Metaphors. When giving a technical explanation or presenting a novel idea, compare it to something the audience is familiar with by using a metaphor. 
  • Brevity. Always explain ideas in as few words as possible. Attention spans are limited, and the ability to communicate succinct yet persuasive points is key.

Whether you need to sell an idea at work, present data in a more impactful way, or fundraise for a new project, these five rhetorical devices can help. It just takes practice.

  • Master Your Body Language

It’s not just what you say – it’s how you say it. More specifically, it’s how you present yourself. If you can master your body language and come across as confident and in control, people will naturally respond to what you’re saying.

Confident body language is rooted in a grounded stance, purposeful movement, strong gestures, and appropriate facial expressions. There should be just as much intentionality behind your body language as there is behind your words.

  • Print Handouts

While not a requirement, handing out printed presentation folders is a great way to impress your audience. Not only does this give people something to follow along with, but it also shows preparation and planning. When you take the time to print materials in a sleek folder, it’s clear that you’ve given this presentation lots of thought. 

  • Be Smart With Slides

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki has both given and listened to thousands of presentations. (Which means he’s well aware of what works and what doesn’t.) He’s a big believer in being smart with PowerPoint presentations and slides. In fact, he’s such a firm believer that he’s developed something he calls the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.

“It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points,” Kawasaki writes. “While I’m in the venture capital business, this rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.”

The point is not to be overly reliant on slides. There’s nothing more sleep-inducing than a presenter who reads through a slideshow. A PowerPoint presentation should accompany your words, not the other way around. Technically, you should be able to give the same presentation without any slides.

Become a Master Presenter

You don’t need a gregarious personality or lots of stage experience to become a masterful presenter. All you really need is a willingness to do it combined with the discipline to practice. Armed with these two foundational pillars, you can implement the suggestions highlighted in this article and become a powerful presenter.

My title Page contents