Some business owners live for giving presentations while others consider it to be their worst nightmare. Many people are afraid of public speaking, and Jerry Seinfeld even has a skit where he talks about studies that have shown that people are more afraid of public speaking than of death. If you’re one of those people – it’s okay. However, as a business owner, you’ll probably need to give a presentation or two at some point during your career. Instead of shrugging it off and worrying about it when the time comes, the best thing you can do is to educate yourself on what makes a good presentation. Then, you can apply those tips to your own presentations.

You’ve likely sat through dozens of presentations throughout your life. And there’s a good chance that you can spot a good presentation from a bad one. But what is it about those good presentations that make them so good? What is it that the speaker does that has you sitting at the edge of your chair hanging onto every word they say? If you’re looking for ways to give awesome presentations, here are three tips:

Tell a story

You can’t give a good presentation unless you have something worth talking about. Maybe you’re presenting about a recent trip you took that changed your life, or you’re trying to persuade people to donate to your cause, or maybe you’re trying to motivate people to take action. Regardless of what you’re talking about, people most likely won’t take action just because you tell them to. You need to connect with people on an emotional level and inspire them to take action. Stories are one of the most powerful tools for making connections with people because, as humans, we’re wired to listen to stories. Even if you’re just presenting to your employees about new policies in the workplace, telling a story can help motivate people and make them excited (or even just content) about the upcoming changes. The more personal and authentic the stories are, the more powerful the responses will be.

Plan your delivery

There are three common ways to deliver a presentation: (1) reading it directly off a script, note cards or teleprompter, (2) developing a set of bullet points and map out what you’re going to say in each section or (3) memorizing your speech. Our advice: Don’t read from a script, note cards or teleprompter. When you do that, you’re not really connecting with your audience. Once people sense that you’re reading directly from a script, you’ll lose any connection that you had with your audience. Memorizing your presentation is a popular tactic for speakers who give large presentations frequently, such as people who give TED talks. But if you’re just giving a presentation to your employees or colleagues, mapping out your speaking points is usually a better route. It allows you to “go with the flow” a little more, but you’ll still have the structure and comfort of a set of talking points. Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you, but make sure you take your audience into consideration when planning your delivery.

Use media to enhance, not distract

PowerPoint presentations, visuals, and videos can be powerful presentation tools when used correctly, but they can also be huge distractions when misused. Media should be used only to enhance your presentation. If your visual aids are overly wordy or aren’t relevant, they immediately become distractions. You never want your audience to leave feeling like they would’ve been better off if you just emailed them the presentation slides. Keep the text in your PowerPoint short, and use the words on the slides to remind you of what speaking point is next. Remember: slides don’t deliver the message; you do.

When creating a PowerPoint or other slideshow, follow the 10-20-30 rule by Guy Kawasaki. Here’s a breakdown of what the 10-20-30 rule means:

  • 10: The optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because most people can’t comprehend more than 10 concepts per meeting or presentation.
  • 20: The ideal length of a presentation. Even if you have an hour to give your presentation, try to keep it to 20 minutes. That way there’s enough time to get set up at the beginning and to have a question and answer session at the end.
  • 30: The minimum size of the font on your slides. Although it may be tempting to cram as much information as possible onto one slide, slides full of text are distracting to your audience. Instead of listening to you, they’ll read the slides instead. Using 30-point font or larger will make your presentations better because you’re forced to find the most significant points that you want to convey.

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