It can be hard to make the right choices when it comes to a business pitch or presentation, so here are a few tips and suggestions about how to make it a success.
Technology and props
The good old-fashioned flipchart just won’t cut it in the boardroom anymore. Effective business pitches and presentations rely on technological advances to make points stick in the minds of the listeners. Even PowerPoint-based presentations have lost their sparkle, but there are many new ways to keep your content fresh.
Online presentation editors offer free online access to their software, allowing you to zoom in and out of images or text to give your presentation a more vibrant feel. If you download such software to a smartphone and use a projector, you can control the presentation with a simple hand motion. This will make you look more in control and keep listeners engaged in something slightly different to what they have seen before.
It is important to relate to the audience you are addressing. This can be achieved through body language and demeanour, but most importantly, it can be achieved through language. Research the people you are pitching to and try to familiarise yourself with their jargon. If you use it excessively, you can come across as condescending, but by throwing in a few choice trade words you can appear knowledgeable and reliable. This technique is often best reserved for a question-and-answer session at the end of the presentation, when the tone relaxes.
During the formal pitch it can be easy for listeners to lose interest when the presenter is reading from a script or if the presentation sounds rehearsed. To avoid this, use only bullet points and elaborate in your own words, maintaining eye contact with the audience and using relatable examples to illustrate important points.
Sometimes you don’t know very long beforehand where you will be asked to give a presentation. You could easily find yourself in a London hotel or one of the conference rooms Manchester has to offer. But whether it’s a business centre or a bed and breakfast Manchester, London or Leeds offers, pitching to businesses often means travelling on their terms.
When you have the opportunity to choose a venue, always keep in mind two things: size and facilities. Although it may be tempting to wow your audience with a large venue, somewhere more intimate will lead to more a open discussion and make it seem as though you have a genuine interest in your listeners. However, somewhere too small may become claustrophobic, so make sure you know how many people you are catering for.
The place you choose must have the right facilities, which may include audio or video equipment, overhead projectors and internet connections.
Keep it simple
Nerves can be hard to tackle when it comes to public speaking, so a simple approach can be best. Avoid overloading on data and figures any more than necessary, as it will be nerve-racking to remember and make the presentation seem dry. Try to incorporate humour – no forced jokes, but if you stumble over your words a little, a gentle joke will put everyone at ease.