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Home » Business Owners

How to get great results from your presentations

You’ve been there, you did a great presentation, people were smiling, nodding in agreement even. You felt great. You knew you’d got it in the bag.   Then the presentation was all over and you just knew the phone’s would be  to be ringing off the hook over the next few days. Except it doesn’t.

So what went wrong?  Chances are, you weren’t clear about what you wanted to achieve,  your content was  boring and you read from your notes –  people were glad to get out of there.

To get great results from your presenations you need to learn the  secrets of success comes from RAP ing..

Let’s start at the begining….

Results – What do you want to Achieve?

What’s the point of your presentation? To sell more product, to win more business?

If you don’t know what your results you want to achieve for your presentation then you’re guaranteed not to achieve them.

Audience – Who are are you talking to?

I’m sure you’ve listened to a presentation and felt bored. Not being funny or anything, but why should your audience feel any different when you start speaking?

You must put yourself in their shoes and think about what they’d like to hear, not what you want to talk about.

That’s not to say that you should only talk about subjects that they’ll find interesting,  you need to create a reason why they “need” to be listening to you.

A good starting point is often “at the end of this presentation you will [and then state the benefit of listening to your presentation from their point of view]”  So,

“at the end of this presentation you’ll be able to sell more products and earn more commission”

and not

“at the end of this presentation you’ll understand how to fill in the new sales order forms”.

Presentation style – putting R and A together

Once you know what you want to achieve (Results) and who you’re speaking to (the Audience), you’ll need to adapt your style to suit both.

If you don’t here is what you’ll end up with:

Attention Curve

The sad truth of presentations is that generally speaking they get more interesting towards the end. They start with an intro (boring) the presenters say what they’re going to talk about and why (more boring) then get on to the findings (oh my god I think I’m going to stick pins in my eyes) and then finally the recommedations and what they’re going to do to fix it. (Sorry… I think I must have dozed off. Did someone say something?)

The downside  of presentations is that they generally become more interesting as the audience becomes more bored. If this happens then there is no way that your audience is going to take in anything that you had to say.

So consequently you need to work out how to stimulate interest, by using props and  variety.

For example instead of showing pictures of your products, show them the products! if you’re presenting on how well a drill drills holes, show them.  If you’re a web desinger, show them examples of your websites.

Remember that if you’re presenting then you know more about the subject than the audience.  What seems obvious to you, may not be obvious to them.

Give unrelated examples

Giving examples about a something that people can relate to can make them understand things more quickly.

Try this:

  1. Think of a point you want to get across
  2. Liken it to something completely unrelated
  3. Bring it back to point 1

For example, to illustrate the point that a team I was working with were involved in the process and not leading it, I compared them to being passengers on the bus, with no idea where the bus was going or why they were on it in the first place. Once they figured out that they needed to be driving the bus,  it was so much easier for everyone to see what needed to be done.

One crucial point

W’e’ve covered the following topics – remember them all?

Why presentations don’t work


Results – know what you want to achieve

Auidence – create thier interest, concentration curve and stimulating interest

Presnentation sytle – Vary your pace, style and your voice

Last section – make it short

The crucial point – don’t make a summary.

Don’t make a summary

If you hear the words summary, most people immediately switch off becasue they’ve heard it all before, so don’t tell them you’re summarising the points.

If you try these skills in your next presentation, you’ll get better results, more memorable presentaions and  more business for you.  What do you think?


  • Dave Doolin said:

    I’m a big fan of Cliff Atkinson’s “Beyond Bullet Points.”

    But it’s a really hard thing to turn a lot of my technical material into presentation-worthy stories.

    Thanks for writing this. I need to apply these principles to some slide decks soon to go up on Scribd.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    I’m not familiar with Cliff’s work. I will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing Dave, much appreciated.

  • Ben said:

    As a professional speaker myself I know what its like to get any feedback AT ALL from an audience.

    My biggest tip would be, get your audience involved. When you actively engage a group in a presentation they’ll take more away from what you’ve said.

    Ask them questions, take questions, use a volunteer to demonstrate something etc

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Thanks Ben. Yes, I think getting the audience involved is vital, but you have to be careful to keep control of your ‘ball’. When you involve the audience you need to be sure what you’re trying to acheive as if you’re not careful you could end up in a massive digression and your points may be lost.

    Good points about getting ‘volunteers’ to demonstrate stuff (as long as it’s easy to use!)