What makes a great presentation?

Preparation, preparation and more preparation. You simply cannot spend too much time preparing and practicing.

“But I cannot afford the time!” I hear you say. Well I would argue you cannot afford NOT to prepare well. A simple business calculation for you… A year has 365 days, that’s 208 working days. Take out public holidays, a standard 4 weeks holiday and say 15 days for training and company meetings (quarterly sales meetings) a year and that becomes 160 days. If you are in sales, what’s your average closing rate as a business? Perhaps 50% of the time you succeed (and that’s very good!). That means that about half your time is wasted each year, cold calling, chasing prospects, paperwork, etc.. So, that is only 80 effective sales days a year. How many client visits does it typically take to close a sale? Maybe 3? That’s now about 26 opportunities you can work on and must close a deal. And what was your target? What’s the average deal size? Beginning to get worried? You should be. Every second of your working day is precious. So if there was one thing I could do to improve my success rate by 10%, how much more would I sell this year? You do the maths on your business and numbers.


Developing a killer presentation, continually honing it every time you give a talk, personalizing the message for each and every prospect. All of these go towards helping you be successful and giving you confidence when you present.


Now what about that trivial matter – content. 🙂

Each business is different, your products and messaging are personal to you. So what’s the key to success? Here are 5 simple rules that we guarantee you, IF you implement religiously, will help improve your success rate in any meeting.


  • Start at the end. “What? That sounds crazy!” you say. We all have the attention span of a gnat when we are constantly overloaded with information. Whatever the key take home message, tell them before you begin, why they should listen for the next 10-20 minutes. Give them the punch line. Example: “Over 90% of our clients typically save 30% of their energy costs using our widget, paying back their investment in less than 90 days. I would like to show you how we can do the same for you.” Make sure you summarise your presentation at the end with the same message.
  • We all talk about them and how often do you mention them? Well it should be every time you meet the client. Repetition makes your message become convincing. Not many like to be the first, and most want to know others already use you successfully. Eventually the client will tell others your message and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
  • NEVER have more or less than 3 messages (bullet points) on an individual slide, and each bullet point should be succinct – preferably one line and certainly 8 words or less. 3 is a magical number. Watch all the great presenters and you’ll typically see they restrict themselves to no more than 3 messages.
  • DON’T overkill with images. No flashing, rotating words and pictures. A picture paints a thousand words – but the key word is “A” picture, not a thousand pictures. But what about all those great graphs and data you want to share! Well a great presenter will ensure they have not only prepared well, but will have prepared their audience well. If you need your audience to understand a key piece of data, why not share shortly before the presentation? I could be a simple handout passed out before you begin the meeting. You can then spend the presentation discussing how that data is relevant to the audience and have them focus and engage with you rather than visually dissecting the slide whilst you talk and not paying attention to you. OR you make a point of saying how you’ll share the results of that last study with them at the next meeting. Now you’re looking at closing and ensuring you have that next meeting booked up.
  • Finally, the golden nugget. Practice, practice, practice. “How boring can that be?” I hear you say. All the great orators practice. The best comedians in the world practice their material time and time again – getting the timing and delivery just so. Why are you any different? Somehow you are so clever compared to them? Having you presentation off pat gives you confidence in the delivery and means you can focus on the audience and their reaction rather than thinking what the next slide is.


There is so much more you can do, but implement these five steps and you on your way to improve your chances of success, and boy we all want that!


Now you’re ready to enter the big time. All you need is all your files: powerpoints, images, PDFs, movies, saved in your Tarraaa! folder. Everything will be at your fingertips in an instant, when you need it, so you can focus on your audience and not sweating over where that product specification is when you get the big buck question.

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