How to Give a Presentation During a Meeting

Feb 07, 2022 - Dom Barnard

Presenting at a meeting, even for the most experienced speakers, can be a scary experience. Some people react with panic when they hear the word 'presentation'. Keeping track of the time and managing visual aids while speaking is hard enough for most professionals.

It is crucial to impress the audience with credibility and confidence in the information being shared, whether addressing colleagues, clients, a board of directors, or business partners. Rather than just getting by, a few practical tips can you successfully present in a meeting.

Develop an audience-focused perspective

It is vital to shape a meeting for the specific audience it is addressing. This requires a thorough understanding of them. For instance, a presentation for technical developers would differ greatly from a presentation targeted at CEOs, even if it is the same project.

The presenter should take into account what the audience already knows and what they are looking for from the presentation. When planning a business meeting, the speaker must reckon with:

  • Audience size
  • The level of complexity at which to address the topic
  • Part of the audience that might be disinterested
  • How to help even the least informed to understand the subject

The audience is always right. If a new product fails in the market, prospective customers did not make a mistake in refusing to buy it. It is better to place faith in the wisdom of the target audience when preparing a presentation. Then they can judge what will resonate well with them. After all, it's theirs to gain.

When addressing a new audience, it pays to research the demographic and perhaps consult with other leaders before the meeting to explore the agenda. Investigating an audience helps to know better their needs and interests. The ultimate goal is to make a bid, motion, or proposal that's focused on the listeners' perspective.

Manage your nerves

The fear of public speaking, also called glossophobia, is a common phenomenon. According to Psychology Today, an estimated 25% of the world population has this problem.

Even mild glossophobia can have severe implications in some individuals. Even some experienced public speakers get anxious when presenting a business idea. In short, the most challenging part of making a business presentation is managing the nerves. A few tips would help overcome anxiety.

1. Silence voices in the head

Some voices in the head can damage one's confidence, suggesting that the presentation is boring, embarrassing, and not good enough. Such voices of insecurity only make the presenter self-conscious.

The important thing is to identify and dismiss them as lies. Practising this attitude will eventually lead to more confident presentations.

2. Focus on the point, rather than oneself

Some people are so afraid of public humiliation that they end up messing up and embarrassing themselves. They forget the meeting is not about them but the matter in question.

The best approach is to stop perceiving the presentation as a contest or a source of judgement. Shifting the attention from oneself to the main objective eliminates the anxiety.

3. Turn anxiety into excitement

Nervousness and excitement are closely related. Proficient business presenters see themselves as excited rather than nervous moments before getting on stage.

4. Use notes as shorthand reminders

Notes should guide the presenter on what to cover and in what sequence. The points should be used as support, not scripts. It is about delivering the ideas, not reading them.

5. Authenticity

Many business presenters mess things up by trying to fake things. An audience will respond best to authentic behaviour, even if it's not perfect. By contrast, a presenter who sounds artificial damages their reputation, breaks the connection, and reduces audience engagement.

6. Volume

Being audible enough is critical to passing a powerful message during a meeting. Loud voice projects confidence, authority, and leadership.

Body language

Business leaders use body language to their advantage. This is a preeminent visual that the audience needs to see. It is how the body communicates non-verbal, i.e., through posture, gestures, stance, and facial expressions.

Depending on the body language, which can be conscious or unconscious, a presentation can evoke confidence, frustration, boredom, anger, or excitement. Some of the most powerful board meetings have been delivered by applying body language tips highlighted below.

  • Holding eye contact with delegates to enhance credibility
  • Smiling more to build trust
  • Standing still (reduce the pace) to sound more powerful
  • Use of hands to express emotions and emphasize key points
  • Utilising the entire space and walking around to encourage engagement
  • Standing upright with relaxed arms to demonstrate confidence

Audience participation

Most people don't like lengthy presentations. When bored, they start murmuring to their neighbours or checking their phones. To avoid monotony, the audience must be involved. Ice breakers and introductions, for instance, re-energise attendees so they can concentrate. Some of the effective ways to engage the audience are as follows.

  • Telling a joke or story
  • Getting people to read information out loud
  • Sharing a personal experience
  • Including a Q&A session in a PowerPoint presentation
  • Relating ideas to a current trend
  • Bringing slides to the attendees' hands with appropriate tools
  • Asking provocative questions
  • Provide a comical observation about the audience

The first five minutes of a business presentation is the perfect time to ask people in the room to raise their hands and answer simple questions. This is probably the best moment to capture their attention and spark interactions.

A killer opener is the fastest way to convince a crowd. If the audience can respond to a poll or agree with the underlying premise, they are more likely to accept the call to action.

Streamline the PowerPoint

While having text on PowerPoint (or similar software such as Keynote) is the easiest way to recall points, it is easier to lose the audience when reading directly from the slides. Many executives make this mistake in their first year of running a company.

Instead, they should create simple, clean visuals with consistent colours to explain concepts. Images must be relatable to the audience's perspective. Text must be less than 10 words per slide and in bold font, if necessary.

Visuals should illuminate rather than misrepresent an explanation. Pictures and graphs showing percentages can be more effective than text. However, complex imagery gives the viewers a hard time trying to fathom the agenda. Some attendees may be short-sighted, so there's a need for larger and clearer fonts. All in all, simplicity and consistency are fundamental to helping the audience follow along.

No matter how complex a business presentation seems, it is of utmost importance to capture the attention of the audience and keep them hooked till the end. The advice on this page can take a formal meeting from merely good to great. The tips above can be used by all presenters across the board, regardless of their experience level.