Writing a Powerful Presentation

The Write Stuff

Typically, most people think of a presentation as being delivered orally in front of a group. Yet, a presentation may also come in the form of a printed document that could be put into a report cover, a portfolio or a ring binder.

       What's more, today's presentations often take full advantage of digital capabilities, utilizing streaming video and other web-based applications to present ideas from one computer screen to another.

No matter what form a presentation takes, the best ones are always well written. Whether its a year-end review delivered in a huge room full of corporate executives, a departmental slide show, or a printed quarterly report filled with sales analyses...thoughts must be properly organized and the right words must be used to present key points clearly and convincingly.

       Here are five writing strategies that can make your presentations powerful and impactful:

Open with something interesting.
You want to grab your audience right away, hopefully with something they can immediately relate to. One proven technique is to open your presentation with a famous quote that in some way is relevant to your topic. Another is to start with a short and possibly humorous anecdote, perhaps from personal experience. Yet another is to state some startling WOW facts or did you know questions that will seize the audiences attention and get them thinking.

Use bullets wherever possible.
If your presentation is oral, chances are you will be using slides to complement what you are saying. Do not put long, wordy paragraphs in your slide copy. Instead, use bulleted points that act as quick-read reference lists. The same holds true for presentations that are printed, or online, or in just about any other form. Avoid long, cumbersome paragraphs that may intimidate readers and cause them to miss the important points you want to convey.

Stay away from jargon.
It can be highly tempting to talk shop by using words and phrases that may seem very common to you but might not be familiar to your audience. What's more, the use of jargon or slang may undermine the credibility and/or seriousness of your presentations message.

Refer to your theme often.
Every good presentation has an overall theme...perhaps its to communicate the marketing opportunities for a new product, or, to introduce a new division in your company. Wherever possible in your writing, remind your audience what the main purpose of the presentation is by threading several mentions of the theme throughout the entire presentation.

Leave your audience with a call to action.
Studies have shown that the conclusion of a presentation, more than any other part, is what is remembered most often by an audience. Utilize the end of your presentation to its strongest advantage by stating what you want your audience to do next, i.e., stock up on this new product today and see for yourself how it can improve your sales and profits.

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