8 Key Must-Have Elements to Make a Professional Presentation

A professional presentation requires a few key elements that can help you achieve desired goals. When presenting before a group of professionals, you need to be mindful of certain things which can help you acquire desired results by ensuring that your content is clear, cohesive and sends out a message that can resonate with your audience. We have compiled a list of the 8 key must-have elements to make a professional presentation that can help you create your next slide deck.

8 Key Must-Have Elements to Make a Professional Presentation

1. A Suitable Presentation Design

Whether you’re using PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi or some other platform to present your content, you do need a suitable presentation design. You can make your job easy by downloading professionally designed PowerPoint templates or by using the default slide designs offered by PowerPoint and other presentation apps. You can even start from scratch and get creative with your content. The key is to have a ‘suitable’ presentation design. For example, if you’re making a presentation about your communications strategy for an organization which has a background design depicting school children or sandy beaches, it might not simply click. Unless it is related in some way with your communications strategy and project! The point is that the presentation design should be appropriate and connected to your presentation topic. You can also opt for simple, minimalist template designs to use a generic background. Just make sure that your presentation design goes with your presentation topic.

2. A Compelling Introduction

It is not necessary that you use an introduction that directs discusses the topic itself. You can initially start with a compelling story, a real-life example, or an experience from your own life and eventually connect it to your presentation topic once you are about to conclude your introduction. A good introduction can help grab the attention of your audience and keep them attentive for the rest of the presentation.

3. Clarity of Topic

By the time you’re done with your introduction, your audience should have clarity regarding your topic. They should be able to understand what you’re trying to convey ahead and not appear puzzled as to what might be the purpose of the presentation. A bit of mystery regarding what is to be unveiled is fine; however, you must not confuse your audience or they may lose interest and the outcome of that might be quite negative.

4. A Sequence that Makes Sense to the Audience

Your presentation sequence should make sense to the audience. For example, you don’t want to discuss something you intend to do in the future before you explain the logic for such an initiative from past references. Moving back and forth in your timeline of events can be confusing. Even if you intend to explain the current trends or future forecasts before dwelling into past performance, you might want to sequence it in a manner which might be easy for your audience to grasp. Keeping less relevant events short and concise can help focus on the more pressing topics.

5. Margin for Clarifying Subtopics

There should always be margin for clarifying subtopics. Be it in the form of a Q&A at the end or the middle of the presentation or a detailed explanation of each subtopic presented in the form of handouts or notes for further reading. You should make sure that your audience is clear about your explanation of events, project details, processes, etc. This will help strengthen your call to action.

6. A Message that Resonates with your Audience

Regardless of how good a presenter you are, you will require delivering a message that resonates with your audience. A group of investors might be looking for more profit, an audience consisting of environmentalists might be looking for clean energy and greener solutions, whereas school children might want a bit of humor to stay attentive and enjoy the presentation. Make sure you have something in your presentation that can reach out to your audience at a personal level. You can also look for things that are culturally appropriate and homogeneous traits in your audience to cater for.

7. A Presentation Deck Free of Errors

Errors such as spelling mistakes, misplaced graphics, and missing content can be annoying for your audience. Make sure you double check your slide deck. If you’re playing a video, make sure the video and sound works properly. You don’t want the audience to wait as your presentation or video faces technical glitches. While many good presenters are able to cover up such issues and their spelling mistakes might even be overlooked by the audience due to their charm, but it still looks quite unprofessional.

8. A Conclusion with a Call to Action

Perhaps the only thing that matters at the end of any presentation is the call to action. All presentations are meant to invoke some kind of action or make the audience to think and decide for themselves. Even if your presentation is not persuasive but simply meant to offer facts for further discussion, that too is a call for action, i.e. to make the audience ponder and decide. Your presentation should not end abruptly, and you must have a call to action that your audience relates to. You might want to use the rule of three and the principle of recency.

The 8 key must-have elements to make a professional presentation mentioned above can help you act as a guide to create a slide deck which can help you deliver a presentation that appears professional, cohesive and clear.

About Farshad

IT professional, communications specialist and Blogger!

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