How to Plan a Business Presentation

………..He who fails to plan, plans to fail  !

The origin of this proverb is somewhat elusive: Some attribute it to Winston Churchill, others to Benjamin Franklin, and yet others to Alan Lakein, author of self-help books on Time Management.

Regardless of its origin, it is a gentle reminder of why a roadmap is important to keeping a clear objective in mind.  Witness the rise in the use of  GPS in many automobiles!

When it comes to planning a business presentation, the roadmap provides perspective on the audience, the product and the purpose for speaking. It is not at all a lengthy process.  Consider:


  1. Audience: Now that you have created a profile of the target customer, you know who they are, what they need and what they are interested in.  The target customer recognizes the problem/need themselves  and the pain it is causing them.  So plan to answer their questions regarding the consequences of doing nothing or changing to your product
  2. Occasion: Now that you understand the nature of the gathering, where it will be held, and how long it will last, you must plan your approach based on where you will appear on the programme, and if there are other presenters talking on the same problem/need.
  3. Plan your message: Ensure you know what you want to tell the target audience and decide on how you will present that message (stated or implied) to communicate precisely what you want the audience to understand.  Plan to send a message that is strong and clearly stated to show you understand their problem/need – no rambling, no ambigity,and above all, to answer the question “What did the speaker say?”
  4. Plan to meet target audience’s expectations: Ideally the audience wants to know that your solution – your product (in this case your presentation) satisfies their problem/need. Plan the answer to one burning question “What’s in this for me, will it make my life better?” and support it with credible evidence that will help them to visualize benefits and value to their lives, even for a brand new product/service.  You need to plan for conversions!


The Product you are promoting is your ‘presentation’, your solution to the audience’s problem/need.


  1. Plan your objective: Know why you are presenting your message to them at this time.  They have a problem/need, you have the solution.  Decide whether you will inform, persuade or motivate them to react positively to your Call to Action.  Your objective is to influence the way they think, feel and behave.  Plan on how you will keep the message and objective together throughout your presentation, otherwise you could ramble and they will lose interest in what you are saying and tune you out.
  2. Plan the response you are seeking from the target audience:  Know what you want from them, what specific responses you are seeking in order to get their commitment when called to action.  Do they have to fill out a form, make a phone call, write you  cheque or contact you later? 
  3. The Call to Action response will be an indicator of whether or not the audience is moved to action – Did they follow your instructions,  did they consider you trust worthy?

As you plan business presentations, you will clarify your objective and will ensure that you are creating a foundation to help you meet those objectives.

My next post will cover the how to structure the actual presentation.


How to Market your Small Business or Home-Based Business on the Cheap

Basically, home-based and small business owners have the same needs – to market product/service, build revenue by attracting loyal customers, and manage their time. Unfortunately, these basic needs are challenged on a daily basis.

Imagine for a moment that you’ve invested every penny you could scrape together to create that small or home-based business you’ve always dreamed of.  You’ve developed a great product or service that is specific to a niche demographic, and like every small business owner, you feel compelled to be involved in online marketing.

You have a professionally looking website, selected important keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and opened social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Google+  and LinkedIn. You even made a YouTube video.

Through social media and the internet, you’ve attracted thousands of online connections and are relying on them to spread the word on your product/service and send leads to you. So day after day you sit in your home office and wait and wait, however, customers are not falling into your lap and this leaves you ‘product rich but cash poor’. Your website is listed so far back in the Google Search Results that you even give up on searching for it!

Now what? How do you get beyond this snag?

When this happened to me I realized that like other small business owners, I’d made the mistake of assuming that once there is a huge online presence ‘everyone’ will buy from me.  This is far from true; such an assumption exposes us to three new challenges:

  1. Low customer pool perhaps SEO keywords are not dynamic enough to  pick up my website, social media sites, article sites, and video sites when hot topics are searched on.
  2. Low customer pool leads to low cash flowthere are no new or repeat sales
  3. Low cash flow leads to poor time management – because it means spreading oneself thin to do everything without helpers

A close analysis of these challenges suggested that I pay attention to the following areas:

1.   Marketing Strategy prior to Popularity of the Internet

Perhaps I could solve the low customer pool challenge by resorting to the tried and true marketing methods before the Internet – offline marketing. You know, radio, television/print media and public speaking.  Today, except for public speaking, these offline marketing methods are very expensive (also out of reach for most small business owners) and are losing followers, but when used, they serve as another link to refer customers to a specific website.

2.   Public Speaking as a Free Marketing Tool

With very limited resources the choice was simple for me – business presentations! I would talk passionately to the audience in person about the value of my product/service, and without coercing them, generate an emotional interest in the product/service before asking for the sale.  This would drive traffic to my website – for free.

I’ve been trained as a Toastmaster in the mid-1990s. I also complimented my public speaking training with training in theatre acting, radio/TV broadcasting and voice over acting. I spent over 30 years as an Analyst in the IT field and this is where I honed my business presentation skills.

Public speaking is considered cheap but is often overlooked as an effective marketing tool because most people are afraid to speak in public.

Effective public speaking is a learned skill as any Toastmaster can attest. As a business owner, the success of your business relies on the ability to communicate effectively.

Have you ever wondered why after learning to speak at the age of 2, most adults have a deep fear of public speaking?

Mark Twain said: “There are two types of public speakers – those who are afraid and those who are liars”.

Just like TV commercials that direct viewers to specific websites and contact details to keep customers from going to the competition, I too must have an effective offline tool to direct customers to my online marketing platform.

 3.   Build  Relationships by Meeting Potential Customers Face-to-Face

Prior to the Internet days, business owners spoke face-to-face with targeted audiences. The more people saw the speaker and the business name, the more credible and successful the business owner became and this made it easier to promote the product/service through word of mouth.

It was therefore time for me to:

  1. Decide on a target market and where they would be assembled into one room.
  2. Find out their needs and how my product/service meets that need.
  3. Prepare a one-page ad that would summarize the value my product/service offers as a solution to their needs, and highlight my contact information: website, social media sites, and telephone number.
  4. Prepare a presentation for face-to-face delivery to my targeted market. The audience needs to see my face and create trust and credibility in me before buying my product/service. I would ask for their commitment and offer them a ‘free gift’.  After my Q&A session, I would remind them of the commitment and call them to action. 

Without a doubt, these four steps are the best decisions I made to kick-start ‘How to Market my Home-Based Business on the Cheap’.

In my next blog we will look at how to find the targeted audience.

5 Tips for Effective Business Presentations

Today you would be hardpressed to find a business that does not operate without a global presence. With so many different cultures and languages in the new workplace, business organizations have adopted English as a lingua franca (common language) for business communication, regardless of where companies are headquartered.  The total effect of interactive communication in English depends on how the team interprets the chosen words, visual appearance and vocal delivery.

Tip 1 – Know your Customers

Know which segment of the population you want to target and customize your presentation for them.  There is no such thing as a one-size fits all presentation.  You want to start the communication process by addressing them specifically in order to establish rapport. 

Tipe 2 – Know what you want to tell him. 

If they are familiar with a similar product, what makes yours different?  The mesage you send must be strong and clearly stated to show you understand their needs – no rambling, no ambiguity.  This is the central thread that holds your presentation together.  It answers the question  “What did the speaker say?”

Tip 3 – Know why this message is important to them at this time. 

Your objective is to influence how they think, feel and behave.  They have a need, you have a solution.  So keep the message and objective together throughout your presentation, othewise you could ramble and they will lose interest in what you are saying and tune you out. If you focus on yourself you will become nervous and it will show.

Tip 4 – Know what they want from you and this is very, very important. 

What is their expectation? It might help to think of your prospects as tight-fisted spenders who reserve the right to walk away without spending a dime if they don’t see you as trustworthy.  They want an answer to one burning question – what’s in it for me? They want to know that your solution (your product/service) satisfies their need.  They want to visualize something of value that will be perceived to make their lives better.  They want to trust you, so provide credible supporting evidence that will help them visualize the benefits of your product.  Tell them a human story so they feel that you’ve connected to them on an emotional level and that your product is the one and only product for them.  They don’t expect you to be perfect, they don’t care if you make bloopers or stand on your head or spin cartwheels, as long as they believe you are authentic and consider their feelings.

Tip 5 – Know what you want from them. 

Many presenters overload the audience with information – and forget to ‘call them to action’.  Let them know what action you require in order to get the response you are seeking – help them to understand, to accept, and to act upon the response you are seeking.  Do they have to fill out a form, make a phone call, write you a cheque, or follow you home?  Listen to them and always be prepared for the Q&A Session. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. People conceptalize differently so use process and data models to overcome language barriers.  If the concept is complex, build up the diagram progressively as you speak.  Walk through the steps in a sequential order.  Your challenge is to listen well and rephrase expressions in grammatically correct English so that everyone clearly understands.