2 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
Whether you like it or not, top-notch
presentation skills are one of the keys to
success in the modern workplace. This is
true if you’re a company of one, or if you’re
working at a Fortune 500 company with
hundreds of other employees. It’s hard to
imagine a position out there that doesn’t at
some point require you to assemble ideas
and present them to a person or a group of
people who know little to nothing about the
topic you’re covering.
Very few people will tell you that presenting is
easy or that it’s something they love to do.
The fears are all usually pretty common:
Guide to Presenting
Like a Professional
3 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
Will I sound like an idiot? How will I
say something new and interesting?
Am I going to accidentally say “um”
a million times? What if I have some
massive technical failure that derails
Some presentations will go more
smoothly than others, but there are
steps you can take to making sure
your presentation comes across as
professional and informative. This
eBook will cover many of the steps
you can take in order to make this
happen, but we’ll have a special focus
on how visuals and infographics can
make your presentation stand out
from the rest.
Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
4 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
We’ve all had the recurring nightmare where
you show up for a test and realize you haven’t
read the book it’s about, or where you find out
you have to speak in front of a large group of
people and have nothing prepared. Make sure
this remains in the realm of nightmares – not
reality – by making sure you have a firm grasp
on your subject.
Sometimes the topic of your presentation
will be complex. For instance, maybe you run
a catering business and you’re looking for
investors. Part of this might mean outlining
somewhat complicated financial scenarios.
While part of your audience might be familiar
with this type of presentation, expect that
there will be times when someone in the room
will be unfamiliar with some of your concepts.
Know Your Subject
5 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you’re able to easily break
it down for your audience, both in your presentation materials (for
instance, your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation) or when you’re
speaking. When you start out, approach the subject as if you’ve never
approached it before and consider what major questions you might have
Start with the basics. Define terms that people may be unfamiliar with.
Show real world examples that make it easy to imagine an abstract
concept and apply it to real life.
On the other hand, the topic of your presentation may be something
more simple and straightforward. For instance, let’s say you’re this same
caterer, and you’re a doing a general presentation that explains your
brand philosophy and tells the story of how you started your business.
This may be something that you know like the back of your hand, but
in order for it to have an impact on your audience, you need to craft a
compelling story out of the tale. All stories require a beginning, middle,
and an end, so think about how you might apply this outline the story
you’re trying to tell.
Know Your Subject
6 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
News flash: No one likes to sit in a room
and be talked at by someone. Or rather,
that’s not what your presentation
should feel like. Imagine if you stood in
front of a room of people and read from
note cards for forty minutes. How boring
would that be? Even if you managed
to pull of a compelling presentation in
this manner, it’s hard to deny that not
having some visual element is a missed
In the digital age, the most common
visual presentation form is the deck.
Many people use programs like Microsoft
PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote to build
their presentation deck, but Google also
offers Google Slides, a free presentation
7 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
application that operates
similarly to Microsoft and
However, the Ted blog notes
that your slides should be the
last thing you think about, so
before you start building this
presentation, you need to
have completed the steps we
already talked about: You need
to have a solid grasp on your
subject and know the story
you’re trying to tell.
Once you’ve done that, start
plugging copy into your deck.
But while you do this, look for
opportunities to use visuals
to tell your story. Remember
that the golden rule of
presenting is the less text on
your presentation, the better,
so try to use visuals whenever
Your use of visuals can be
simple or complex. For
example, if you’re telling
the story of your early days
starting a catering business,
find photographs that help
better tell that story. Even a
slide featuring the numbers or
primary points that cover your
first year in business can be
prettied up with custom icons
that denote each section.
8 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
Visuals can really come in handy when
you’re trying to illustrate more complex
concepts. For example, if you’re going
to lay out something related to your
finances, or want to illustrate some
short of change over some period of
time, this would be the moment to use
visuals to help get your story across
through an infographics or other design
However, a good presentation often
gets creative with visuals in a way
that feels unexpected and adds to the
overall vibe of the presentation. For
instance, instead of simply having your
logo on the cover page, why not use
some other image that feels evocative
of your brand and your message?
To use the catering business example
again, maybe this is the moment where
you show a gorgeous, well-styled
spread of your most appealing dishes?
Not everyone is design-minded, so
if you feel like handling the visual
elements is too difficult for you,
outsource that work to a professional.
Ask friends or look around online for
someone who can help you out. The
vibrant Fiverr community includes
people who offer this very service, so
be sure to look around Fiverr.com as
well and see if there’s anyone you’d like
to work with.
9 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
Once you’ve assembled your
presentation, be sure you run through
it until you feel you are comfortable
with it. One thing to avoid doing
is reading from the presentation
deck. This is fine sometimes, but the
best presentations feel more like a
conversation. You may want to keep
notes that you can discreetly turn
to throughout the conversation,
but, again, you want this to feel like
a conversation between you and the
people in the room. Be sure to look
them in the eye and leave room for
people to jump in with questions
whenever you sense that one may
10 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
One the day of your presentation, looking
your best will help you feel your best. Choose
clothing that makes you feel amazing. You’ll
also want to take into consideration your
audience and the location of the meeting. If
you’re meeting with a group of financiers in a
corporate office building, something like a suit
might be the way to go. But if you’re talking
about your business to a group of college
students, you may want to go a bit more
Also, if there’s a lot riding on your presentation,
de-stress by exercising the morning of. Eating
well beforehand can also keep you alert and
focused, so go for something healthy instead
of something sugary. The last thing you need is
to crash right before you’re about to present.
11 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
Immediately after your presentation, make
sure you allow plenty of time for questions.
Again, this part of the presentation should
feel like a conversation, so if you don’t get
any questions at first, ask some questions of
your own. This should get the conversation
moving. If someone asks you to expand on
something from your presentation, don’t
get defensive or immediately wonder if this
means you weren’t clear enough. This is
simply a sign of curiosity. Embrace it!
After you’ve presenting, depending on the
contents of your presentation, you may want
to leave behind a version of your presentation,
either a hard copy or a digital copy.
If you do send a digital copy, it’s probably
What to Do After
12 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
wise to send it as a PDF or in some
other format where it can’t be edited
or used without your permission.
This will allow people to look over
what you have to say and ask any
questions they may have.
A day or two after your presentation,
it’s a good idea to check in with the
people to whom you presented and
see if they have any questions. This
is also a good time to thank them
for the opportunity to speak with
them. Some people feel odd about
reaching out after a presentation,
but always do this. You never know
when someone was too busy or shy
to reach out first.
What to Do After
13 | Guide to Presenting Like a Professional
Let’s face it, your first time
presenting is never easy.
Chances are you’ll finish and
think of dozens of things
you wish you could’ve done
better. But the great thing
is that there are probably
more presentations in
your future, so now is
the time to tweak your
presentation, enhance your
visuals, or practice your
public speaking before the
next presentation comes
around. And remember that
the more you present, the
easier it will be come.
Keep At It!
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