What makes a great presentation?

What makes a great presentation

I think it’s safe to say that most of us will have to deliver a presentation at some point during our professional careers – whether that’s a project overview to team members, or perhaps a strategy update to senior management.

We’ve given out quite a few presentation-based tips over the past year on the blog, including 7 mistakes to avoid when presenting to senior management and 7 simple tips for creating memorable presentations and now it’s our marketers’ turn to share with you a few of their own personal tips.

Here are some useful ideas from us here at Citrix. I hope they’ll make a real difference in your next presentation – good luck!

Connect with your audience right from the start

The audience wants you to succeed, otherwise they’ll have wasted their valuable time. Use that credit and connect with them right at the start. Avoid talking about yourself and your company unless it is essential to understanding your presentation. It is sufficient to state you name, say what you do (in one sentence) and reference your organisation. If you absolutely have to include a pitch, do so at the end of the presentation when you have already built your credibility.

Make use of these 3 powerful words to engage your audience
Imagine – Starting a sentence with the word ‘Imagine’ compels your listeners to envision the scenario you describe. A well-prepared scenario will make your listeners receptive of your solution.

Remember – Asking people to recall a memory is an excellent way to evoke emotions. Just make sure that the likelihood of your audience sharing the specific memory is high.

What if – Use this question to challenge preconceptions and to frame an alternative.

Use great images
High impact images are the backbone of your presentation design. Try to illustrate all major parts of your presentation with high-resolution images that fill the whole slide. You will need to find an image that is a close match to what you want to say. The unexpected benefits of using images in this way are that they give you a visual cue that jolts your memory. If you lose your train of thought the image will help you get back on track.

Pause for impact
Pausing for effect is a potent way to get the attention of your audience. It also ensures a calm and steady flow of your words, which in turn will make it easier for your listeners to understand you. If somewhere in your presentation you notice that your pacing is too quick, make a pause. If you feel uncomfortable with your ‘inactivity’ during the pause, take a sip of water.

Daniel Waas
Director, Marketing, Citrix

You can read more from Daniel in his post Stage Fright: How to get over your fear of public speaking.

Start off by grabbing your audiences’ attention
The opening of your presentation is extremely important and must be attention-catching. I always start off with impressive images or videos or subject-related quotes that make people reflect actively on the subject to be presented or involve people by addressing them directly through personal questions. Make sure you take a look at this post for some brilliant ideas 12 ways to hook an audience in 30 seconds.

Be enthusiastic, honest and passionate about your topic
The audience will feel whether you love your subject or not and whether you are an expert or not. “Live” your topic and transfer the enthusiasm that you feel about it to your audience. This not only motivates them to listen more carefully but also inspires and enthuses them.

Don’t learn your presentation text by heart
Try to be spontaneous to be able to react to participants’ questions and issues during the presentation more naturally. Otherwise you might start stuttering and lose the plot at some point – you don’t want participants thinking that you are unprofessional and overstrained. Nevertheless, be prepared – know your content well and what you want to tell your audience. Prepare for likely questions and try to foresee misunderstandings.

Reiterate your main points
Close your presentation by summarising the main points. You could show pictures that were related to your content and briefly recall the main points. This will help the audience to remember the most important messages you wanted to communicate.

Don’t forget to follow up
Always try to follow up your presentation by delivering useful material to help reiterate your message (worksheets, information sheets, the presentation itself) and invite participants to your next subject-related presentation/webinar if you are targeting prospects.

Julia Lenhard
Marketing Specialist, Citrix

Less is more – don’t overload your presentation
Be careful not to overload your presentation concerning what you tell as well as how you present it. Try to reduce it to the important facts so that your audience have a better chance of recalling the information after the presentation.

Use images to support your message
Images are great to transport and support a message. But if you can, try to keep a consistent image language and style in order to deliver a harmonious overall package. You can find a list of image sources in our post 15 image sources for your next presentation.

Tell a story
If you want to keep your audience attentive, try to convey your message via a story. Do not tell simple facts; show the effect of them by telling an authentic true-to-life example.

Before making your presentation, practice! A good idea is also to get a second opinion of someone who is not as familiar with the topic as you are. This person might find a banana skin that you did not see before.

Julian Gros
Graphics Designer, Citrix

Be organised, know your audience and be focused
Purpose and presentation must be specifically directed to interests of the audience, so they follow and are not bored.

Use media appropriately
PowerPoint, visuals and video are only powerful presentation tools when used correctly. They should never replace the speaker as the provider of expertise. Do not overload your PPT and never read from the screen in the presentation.

Tina Pejonivic
Senior Engagement Programs Specialist, Citrix

Use data as a hook
“There are 6.8 billion people in the world and 4 million of them use a mobile phone”
Include some catchy and thought-provoking phrases/data etc. but be sure you can back them up with facts. If you’re using numbers, make sure you read the post What is the best way to present numbers?

Do not overload your slides with words
Slides should not contain too many words. Instead, use strong images or just keywords to help your audience focus on what you’re saying. Remember it’s incredibly difficult for people to read a paragraph of text on a slide and listen to what you’re saying at the same time. You can find some great images here – 7 places to find brilliant royalty free stock images.

Online presentation? Look into your webcam
Arrange your presentation, monitors and webcam so that you can look straight into your webcam. If you have to look somewhere else, describe what you are doing, so people don’t think that you’re distracted or feel awkward that you are not looking at the camera.

Practice practice practice
Make sure that you are not “reading” the script of your presentation but that you are actually telling the story. Not only will practising several times will help you to achieve this, but it will also help to build your confidence and enable you to deliver a more persuasive presentation.

Sharin Gattung
Senior Demand Creation Manager, Citrix

For some more useful tips on how to make a great presentation, check out this eBook 20 Habits of Brilliant Presenters.


20 habits of truly brilliant presenters

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About the author

Gemma Falconer is a Campaign Manager for LogMeIn. She is part of the EMEA marketing team and looks after the webinar programme, email nurturing and content creation for the UK. In her spare time, you'll find her diving around a volleyball court, trying to learn Portuguese and eating cake – lots of cake! Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter More blog posts by Gemma Falconer ››
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