What Is a Presentation?

At its most basic level, a business presentation is a platform for communicating information and ideas. However, it is really much more than that. While some presentations are just a means to keep people informed, there is usually an element of persuasion involved. Even an informational presentation is not totally free of bias; the presenter always slants it his or her way. Sometimes the presenter is not even aware of this.

A presentation is a persuasion vehicle

Most business presentations are not intended to be strictly neutral transmissions of information. You want to sell your product, service, or solution to your prospective client. You want to win support for your idea. You want to gain buy-in for your recommendation. You want to persuade your audience.

Do your presentations have lots of slides with bullet points, data, and logical arguments? Such information is appropriate in handouts or other support materials. A presentation based solely on these elements is doomed to fail.

Do you try to tell your audience everything you know? Or do you think about what you want them to do and create a presentation with that strategy in mind? An effective business presentation is designed to persuade. It appeals to emotions as well as reason. It uses stories and not just charts and graphs.

A presentation is a picture of you and your organization

You may give presentations to audiences you do not know well, such as prospective clients or members of the public. They may not know much about you or your organization. But they will form an impression of you quickly. And they will use their impression of you to form an impression of the organization you represent.

You may be inexperienced, but you may express yourself with confidence and an air of expertise. Your company may be small, but a strong presentation may convey the perception that it punches above its weight.

Think about how you want your audience to perceive you. Use your presentation as an opportunity to showcase yourself at your best.

A presentation is a powerful, interactive communication medium

A presentation is a two-way exchange of information, not a one-way data dump. Even if there are no questions or comments from the audience, you can gauge their reactions from their facial expression and body language.

A written communication such as a memo or report has certain advantages over a live conversation. You can prepare in advance. You can check your facts, edit, and polish your style. You can take the time to make it nearly perfect.

However, a written communication has two serious drawbacks. First, you cannot tell when (or if) the recipient has read it. And second, you may never know what they really think about your message.

A phone call or a face-to-face conversation has advantages over a written communication. You can get immediate feedback from your listener’s tone of voice or facial expression. You can question one another. You know that your message has been received, and you may have some idea of whether it was accepted.

The problem with an oral communication is you may not be well prepared. Questions arise, there may be interruptions, and the conversation veers off course. You give up some control to other people and your surroundings.

A presentation combines the best of both worlds. You can prepare and polish your presentation, just like you can prepare a strong written document. You also get the benefit of instant feedback present in a face-to-face communication. If your audience looks like they are confused, you can clarify your meaning. If they look like they not buying your message, you can try another approach. Unlike a written communication, you can adapt on the fly.

A presentation is your chance to shine

Finally, a presentation is your golden opportunity to impress your boss and colleagues. People are watching you, and they will judge whether you have what it takes to get ahead in the organization. Do you communicate effectively and confidently? Have you mastered your material? Can you handle questions and think on your feet? Are you persuasive? Do you have the right stuff?

A business presentation is more than just a platform to convey information. It is more than a vehicle to persuade. It is your chance to shine!

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