How Do I Choose the Best Presentation Materials?

D. Nelson

If you have to give a business presentation, you should choose presentation materials that help you get across your point while holding the attention of your audience. While it is important, however, to make sure that your audience is tuned in to your presentation, you should also make sure that you follow your organization's professional standards and avoid obscuring your points with unnecessary visual or audio components. By planning ahead and smartly using audio and visual materials, you might find that choosing the best presentation materials is a matter of common sense.

Charts and other visuals are often incorporated into a business presentation.
Charts and other visuals are often incorporated into a business presentation.

Give yourself at least a week prior to your presentation to begin planning. You may benefit from creating an outline in which you list approximately five main points that you want to cover. As you make notes, think of visual elements that can accompany these points.

Some professionals use a projector and screen to give their presentation.
Some professionals use a projector and screen to give their presentation.

Once you have composed a basic outline, you next can begin thinking about which presentation materials you should use. Many studies have shown that individuals are most attentive when they can learn from a combination of both visual and audio resources. In most cases, you should have text that you read to your audience, as well as visuals that supplement your words.

A common mistake that presenters make is to read from the visual elements of their presentations. This is the wrong use of presentation materials. Instead, you should choose visual materials that clearly illustrate a point that you make. For example, if you want to prove that one product sells better than another, announce to your audience that this is the case, and then show a chart that illustrates your point.

It also is a good idea to include informational packets among your presentation materials. These packets should include important information that you want your audience to remember after your presentation. One factor to consider is when you distribute these packets. Remember that if you give your audience packets during your presentation, they might pay attention to these materials instead of what you are saying.

When choosing presentation materials, pay attention to the details. For example, if you are presenting to a number of your colleagues with whom you are comfortable, you might distribute packets that are printed on common office paper. In scenarios when you want to impress clients or shareholders, however, you can benefit from using color prints or glossy paper.

It can be tempting to use video presentation materials, but they should be used wisely. Avoid incorporating videos simply because they are funny or entertaining. All materials should serve the purpose of illustrating your key points. If you work in a field such as film or television, however, videos might be essential components of your presentation.

Digital projectors may help with presentation to larger groups.
Digital projectors may help with presentation to larger groups.

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