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C-Suite Advisory

How do you gain the competitive edge in your presentation?

Emma Bannister is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine

Remember the last presentation you sat through.  Did it make an impression? Did it inspire you to act or did you find your mind wandering, thinking about what to prepare for dinner? Now, cast your mind back to the last presentation you gave. Did you have an engaged and motivated audience, or did you present to a sea of glazed pupils, fidgets and yawns?

Whether you are scouting for new business or pitching a new product or service, presentations are a powerful tool in business. Yet, we are still undervaluing their true power.  Let’s face it, busy executives have little time to waste, and their bandwidth for anything boring is slim. While we have all been guilty of ‘bullet point city’, to get your all-important message across and more importantly, stand out from the world of lackluster presentations, you need to maximise your impact and influence in the best way possible.

So how do you gain the competitive edge in your next presentation?

Be selective:

A powerful presentation is clear, has a distinctive content flow and is complete with visuals that help communicate the key messages. A poor presentation on the other hand is overloaded with facts, stats, numbers and corporate jargon, lacks flow and a clear key intention.

Presentations require a perfect balance of style and substance and therefore it is crucial that presenters cut the clutter and select only the information that supports and emphasises their objective.

However, many of us believe that sharing everything and drowning our audience in data is the best way to impress their audience. But that could not be further from the truth! Less is more when it comes to presentations, allowing your content and design to hit the high notes through bites sized morsels that your audience will be sure to remember.

Turn up the feeling:

In business, we have been taught to just present the facts, to check emotion at the door. However, we now know that people don’t buy products or services because of their features, they buy them because of how they make them ‘feel’.  Corporate storytelling infused with emotion is the most effective form of communication when it comes to presenting to any audience – business execs included!

The easiest and best way to introduce emotion in your presentations is to build rapport with your audience, connecting with them through common ground. Images are also a fantastic way to evoke an intended feeling. What stories can you tell that your audience can relate to? Are there any thought provoking or emotionally charged images you can use to add impact and emphasis?

Timed to perfection:

The old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ still applies. A timed and rehearsed delivery will win over even the toughest of audiences. This is especially important if you are building to a dramatic finish or a powerful CTA. Ensuring that you have a handle on the emotional journey of your audience (and thus their attention span) is key.

You can also ensure you have the maximum impact if you also start strong. Begin by outlining to your audience how long you are going to talk for and even provide a little taste of what they can expect. It’s imperative that early in your presentation you prove your understanding of their challenges and, where applicable, their pain points. Only then can you begin to describe how yours is the only solution they need, motivating them to act.  And speaking of action, ensure you pay careful attention to what you want them to do after your presentation. Now that they are putty in your hand, it would be remiss to neglect clear instructions on how they can take advantage of your challenge saving offer.

Lastly, keep it simple.

When you keep your presentation short and sweet, you will not have plenty of time at the end for questions, it also shows how you respect their time.  Remember, your audience members are all busy people and any way that you can prove to them that you have taken their needs into account will go a long way.


Written by: Emma Bannister.
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Emma Bannister
Emma Bannister is passionate about presenting big, bold and beautiful ideas. She is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication agency, and author of the book Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations. Emma is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.
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