The business world today is crammed full of presentations. But how many of them are actually any good and more importantly how many of them are memorable and useful?

Think about the last three you saw and the answer can often be alarming.

Sobered by this thought, take some time to look at exactly what you want to say Next time you write a presentation. Then re-write the presentation in as simple and basic a way as possible. This might sound easy but getting to the crux of the message can be tough going! If you understand what your key message is then you’re already on the right track. Once you know this make sure that all the content of your presentation works hard to deliver this message.

At the end of the process, you’ll see that a large proportion of your slides become clearer and more to the point. Most importantly the audience are more likely to understand and remember the information you present.

Again think back to your own experiences. Which presentations do you remember? Is it the one with a whole host of technical jargon? How about the one with tiny graphs and slides crammed with text? It’s not. Invariably it’s the presentation that delivered a clear message, simply and with impact.

To help you on your way here are the four most common mistakes and how to avoid them:

· Long words and incomprehensible sentences cloud your message. These tend to be used by people who are desperately trying to jazz up a presentation.

· Make sure you use concise wording in your presentation. Nothing clouds a presentation or confuses an audience more than over elaborate wording and long dry sentences.

Put simply, the most effective way of communicating is the most basic.

A lot of presentations are pretty generic. Corporate templates are good at providing a basic look and feel, but that’s all they are. It’s important to put your own mark on a presentation, helping ensure it has the required impact and that people remember your message.

Every time you sit down to write a presentation think about the look and feel of that presentation. Think about whether the slide design and graphics are helping you get your message across to the audience. If they’re not helping then they need to go.

If you have to stick to a corporate branding; that’s ok. But add your own stamp to it where you can (although beware the “brand police”!). Doing this ensures your audience see the presentation as yours and not just another corporate message.

The hard sell just doesn’t work – business people are savvy enough to see through sales bluster. If you can show them the facts in a clear, persuasive and concise manner, they’ll see for themselves the benefits of your proposal.

Make sure the presentation structure delivers your message simply and succinctly. This will ensure your audience is attentive and more likely to remember what you say.

A presentation is about getting a message across. The more attentive an audience, the more of the message will be absorbed.

Long winded business jargon only bores the audience. It also serves to alienate an audience. You must get your audience “on side” as early as possible in a presentation.

It’s worth remembering here that a presentation can be tailored for different audiences. Different people will buy into different things. When you’re writing your presentation think about the audience and tailor your slides to them.

A presentation is a tool for presenting. It’s important to remember this when writing and when delivering your presentation. If you have a clear, concise and relevant presentation but simply read it off the slides; the audience will not remember the content. A presentation is not just about the content but how it is presented.

In conclusion, a presentation is a golden opportunity to communicate to your audience. To make the most out of it, it’s essential to get your message across in as clear and focussed way as possible. Think before diving into PowerPoint!

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2006