James Dunn, Product Marketing Manager
Xerox Office and Solutions Business Group

We’re all multi-tasking, hard-working people with aggressive timelines on what seems a never-ending schedule of deadlines. For some small businesses, it’s difficult to justify spending a lot of time on presentations. Luckily you don’t have to be from Apple or a presenter on TedTalks to create an effective presentation, and it doesn’t have to be difficult.

When creating a presentation most people will immediately open up PowerPoint, find their template, and just start entering their thoughts, data, and imagery. Then they proceed to move everything around until it all fits. If this is you, it’s not wrong if it accomplishes your goal, but here’s another approach to consider.

Start with a piece of paper or a blank Word document.

  • Take a position. Establish your objective and your positioning. Write it down so you have a clear reference in front of you as you develop your content.
  • Prove it. Next, document all of your key facts. Don’t worry about the order just yet. While some of them may still need to be validated, having them written down means you’ll have a better chance of following-up.
  • Get creative. You’re not simply presenting facts, pie charts and bar charts. At this point, you’re telling a persuasive story. Develop a narrative exclusive to your presentation that aligns with your small business goals, brand, or product.
  • Develop your image. Now that you have a story to tell you can appropriately select images that really mean something. Images capture attention and allow people to connect with your story on an emotional level, and therein lies the real power of persuasion .
    • Remember not all slides need an image. Images should not overshadow your story, they should complement and contribute to the impact of what you are saying. Simplicity should be your focus.
  •  Practice and deliver. Great presentations don’t just happen even though some of them may appear that way. Great presentations are a result of thoughtful planning, hard work, and practice, practice, practice.

Will you need to go through all of this for each and every one of your presentations? Probably not, but where you have an opportunity to change perspectives and gain alignment you certainly should. You know your audience, you know your content, and you are the best judge of how to create slides and present to your audience.

There are several resources to help get your small business started. A few of my favorites are HubSpot.com for a collection of really good presentations of varying styles, the Duarte Presentation Design and Training blog, and Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen. Do you have additional tips or a go-to resource you use when creating presentations? Share them in the comments below.