Business English- What should a great presentation have?
In our previous article on online Business English lessons for working professionals, we discussed at length several tips for delivering an effective presentation. Today, we speak about the design and content structure that are essential for engaging your audience with that “wow” factor!
As an online English speaking course in India, our online English teachers train our students in persuasive storytelling, body language, speech delivery etc. – all essential features of a great presenter or speaker. However, our students still struggle with the aesthetic and structural requirements of a great presentation.
There is no denying that to make a good presentation great the topic, the depth of analysis, facts backed by strong evidence are all equally important as the presentation style. Online English speaking classes invest a great deal in the latter, while to learn great presentation designs you require a decent creative style along with smart work.
Speechify, the best online English speaking course in India, has got you covered on both of the above! A great presentation requires two equally strong frameworks- the presentation design and the contextual structure or the main body of the presentation.
Let’s understand what each will entail and how we can apply them for delivering effective presentations.
The presentation design essentially means the thematic design of the PowerPoint slides that will comprise your presentation. A “PowerPoint” is defined as a software package designed to create electronic presentations consisting of a series of separate pages or slides.
A smartly designed PowerPoint can be a compelling visual aid that will work a great deal to engage your audience smartly. Let’s discuss a few ways you can use PowerPoint to make an otherwise “boring” presentation fun for your audience.
Background color- This is the slide color and, in most cases, it is expected of you to simply have “off-white” backgrounds. The main idea here is to ensure that slide color is bright for the text to be clearly seen on projector screens or even small screens in “zoom” meetings. However, if you use a contrast combination of background and font color, it can still work.
Font: As we mentioned, the font size and color should be compatible with the background. Stick to “formal” text fonts like arial, calibri, verdana etc. Usually, larger font size with less text on screen is considered good practice. The default slide in PowerPoint starts with 60pts for section headers and 24pts for body font, but even a 3:1 ratio works well.
Creative Add on: This includes the images, logos and video inserts that you will add on to a slide. Most of us get carried away with a lot of creatives that create a “busy slide”- meaning the audience is too busy reading your slide than listening to you speak! Keep images to a minimal and of great quality if they are absolutely essential to your main body. In case of videos, use “slide video-inserts” features instead of posting weblinks on slides. Provide source references wherever applicable.
Automations- PowerPoint comes with built in automation. These are designed so that the presenter can delegate some control to technical add-ons. However, too much automation in the form of background sound-effects, “bouncing” fonts and pictures or “disappearing slides” is not a great idea for office presentations. Automation that facilitates a visually cohesive display is encouraged; else it can detrimentally affect the concentration levels of your audience.
Headers and footers- These include the slide number and slide title. It is an excellent practice to include these in your presentation since audiences can make a note of important slide details through these which they can readily refer to in post-presentation discussions.
Number of slides – An ideal presentation does not have more than 10 slides (including Title and Concluding slides). However, the main focus should be to balance both, the central theme, conclusion discussion and the total time that is allotted to the presentation topic.
These are few of the design aspects of your PowerPoint presentation, now let’s learn about the structure aspects of a smart presentation.
Structuring an effective presentation:
The structure of a presentation comprises of the central theme, evidence-based facts and inferences or simply the main topic of discussion. The contextual theme should be clear and engaging. A smart and simple way to achieve this is to break the structure into: the introduction, main topic and the conclusion. Though it may seem straightforward, this alone will impact your audience’s attentiveness towards your main theme.
The Introduction- You must open your presentation with a clear agenda that can be broken down to two-three sub-themes. This should not comprise more than a slide ideally. This can be then followed by a brief overview of the significance of the topic, recent background and developments and the topics you will address.
The main topic- This is the central theme of your presentation or the core message. Follow a funnel approach to zero down on your main idea. A great way to do this is to discuss and conclude each sub theme at a time. Support evidences, logic structures and entertain counter arguments wherever applicable. You must wrap up the main topic by summing up the discussion with the main topic and emphasizing your reasoning and approach for the same.
The conclusion- The main theme is followed by the logical deduction of inferences drawn through discussing the main theme. Stage the conclusion by simply reiterating the central idea with not more than 4 to 5 key takeaways. Anticipate audience counterquestions at this step and then conclude your talk with an innovative or provoking thought.
To conclude, a great structure in a presentation benefit not only the audience but also the speaker. The audience remains attentive throughout the talk. While as a speaker, a good structure will help you remain poised, stay on topic with an in-depth analysis centered around your audience and avoid any awkward pauses.