What Makes a Great Presentation?

At some point you’re probably going to be asked to speak in public. This might be at work, at a wedding, social event or anywhere else for that matter. Some of us love doing it, some of us hate it.

When delivering presentations, particularly business presentations, we need to engage the audience. The presentation should be influential and sell you, your business and product or service.

We’ve pulled together some top tips from expert presenters from around the world and listed these below. We hope you find some, if not all of them useful.

Centre Around You Audience’s Needs – Think about what the audience needs to get out of the presentation and the information you will provide. Have some clear objectives and base your presentation around them.

Think about what the need to know, what they want to know and what they already know.

Get Off to a Good Start – The start of the presentation is key. Think about how you can quickly grab your audiences attention. You can use story telling (see the last point), use some hard hitting facts or figures or an eye catching image.

Connect With the Audience and Show Your Passion – Tell the audience why the subject and content is important to you. Show you care. Show you are passionate. If you are passionate, it becomes easier for the audience to be passionate to.

Maintain eye contact with the audience. Smile. This helps to build rapport and connect with the audience. Sounds simple, but so many presenters forget to do this, especially when they are nervous.

Keep It Simple and Concentrate on the Core Message – Back to the objectives here. What’s the message? What are the things the audience needs to take away? Best to have 2 or 3 key messages in your presentation and focus the content around these.

You should be able to communicate this quickly. If someone asked ‘what’s the message’?, you should be able to tell them in no more than 30 seconds. Some ideas to do this from experts are:

  • You should be able to tell someone about the message in 30 seconds
  • You should be able to write this on the back of a business card
  • You should be able to describe it in no more than 15 words

Don’t Put Too Much Into Your Slides

A tip from Guy Kawasaki of Apple. He suggests that slideshows should:


  • Contain no more than 10 slides;
  • Last no more than 20 minutes; and
  • Use a font size of no less than 30 point.

The last point should help to ensure you don’t put too much into your slides. The other avoid the dreaded ‘death by PowerPoint’.

A major point here – you should drive the presentation, not the presentation drive you.

Use Story Telling – People love a good story, especially if it’s short, punchy and has a point. Better still, if it’s linked to the subject or something that is of interest.

Use Your Body and Your Voice – You are the most important tool you have during the presentation so use it to great affect. Be aware of your body language and the tone of voice you are using. Vary the pitch, pace and tone of your voice. Move around (just not too much). Give the audience different views to look at during the presentation.

Think Positive – Try and relax and enjoy it. Easy to say, but being prepared, knowing your stuff, knowing the key messages and being well rehearsed will go some way to help you to relax and enjoy.

Get more useful tips and more details about all of the above points on our presentation skills Training Course. We run them as scheduled open courses or can deliver the course in-house. See the Presentation Skills Training Course Page for more details.