10 Tips for Creating Successful Business Presentations

Keep your audience focused with information and professionalism

Business is all about selling, whether it be a product, a topic, or a concept. When making a business presentation, the most important asset you have at your disposal is knowledge of your material. If you don't know everything about what you are selling, it's unlikely your audience will feel confident enough to buy.

Keep your audience focused and interested by creating effective business presentations. It takes practice, but with a few tips up your sleeve, you'll be ready to take on the challenge. These business presentation tips refer to PowerPoint slides, but all of them can generally be applied to any presentation.

Business person showing a tablet screen to someone else
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Use Key Phrases About Your Topic

Seasoned presenters include only essential information and use key phrases to drive home important points to audience members. Choose the top three or four points about your topic and refer to them consistently throughout the presentation.

Simplify and limit the number of words on each screen. Try not to use more than three bullets per slide. The surrounding space makes the information easier to read and comprehend.

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Lay out Slides to Convey Information Cleanly

Make your slides easy to follow by using clean slide layouts. Put the title at the top of the slide where your audience expects to find it. Phrases should read left to right and top to bottom.

Keep important information near the top of the slide. Often the bottom portions of slides cannot be seen from the back rows because heads are in the way.

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Limit Punctuation and Avoid All Caps

Punctuation can needlessly clutter a slide, and the use of all caps makes statements more difficult to read; nowadays, especially, all caps is the typographical equivalent of shouting at your audience. It's considered unprofessional and should be avoided.

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Avoid Fancy Fonts

Using fancy fonts is another sign of an amateur and nonprofessional. Choose a font that is simple and easy to read such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Verdana. Avoid script-type fonts as they are hard to read on a screen.

At most, use only two different fonts, perhaps one for headings and another for content. Keep all fonts large enough (at least 24 point and preferably 30 point) so that people at the back of the room can more easily read what is on the screen.

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Use Contrasting Colors for Text and Backgrounds

Dark text on a light background is best, but avoid white backgrounds as they can be dull. Tone it down by using beige or another light but less harsh color that is easy on the eyes.

Dark backgrounds are effective for showing off company colors, or if you just want to dazzle the crowd. In this case, be sure to make ​the text a light color for easy reading. Patterned or textured backgrounds can reduce ​the readability of text.

Always keep your color scheme consistent throughout your presentation.

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Use Slide Designs Effectively

When using a design theme or template, choose one that is appropriate for the audience. A clean, straightforward layout is best if you are presenting to business clientele. 

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Limit the Number of Slides

Keep the number of slides to a minimum to ensure that the presentation does not become too long. This also avoids the problem of changing slides too often during the presentation, which can distract your audience. On average, one slide per minute is about right.

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Use Photos, Charts, and Graphs

Combining photos, charts, and graphs, and even embedding digitized videos with text add variety and keep your audience interested in the presentation. Avoid having too many text-only slides.

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Avoid Lots of Slide Transitions and Animations

While transitions and animations can heighten your audience's interest in the presentation, too much can distract from what you are saying. Remember, the slideshow is meant to be a visual aid, not a presentation of your PowerPoint cleverness.

Keep animations consistent in the presentation by using animation schemes and applying the same transition throughout the presentation.

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Ensure That Your Presentation Is Compatible

Compatibility is less of an issue in the era of cloud storage and powerful laptop portability. You can easily save your presentation on your own cloud for easy access at your destination. However, it can't hurt to take a flash drive with a backup of the presentation with you, just in case there are technical issues with WiFi or internet access.

If you're using a CD to store your presentation, use PowerPoint's Package for CD (for PowerPoint 2007 and 2003) or Pack and Go feature (for PowerPoint 2000 and earlier) when burning your presentation onto a CD. In addition to your presentation, a copy of Microsoft's PowerPoint Viewer is added to the CD to run PowerPoint presentations on computers that don't have PowerPoint installed.