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Powerful Presentations by Alison Sfreddo

Of all of the assignments and responsibilities that can come your way professionally, the most daunting of tasks has to be creating and conducting a presentation. Whether the audience is large or small, putting together a thoughtful and convincing presentation takes forethought, planning, and some calmed nerves to successfully get your point across. Putting together a cohesive and polished slide deck and delivering it with confidence is not as difficult as you might think and the following are some strategies for presenting with power and panache:

Zero in on a goal. First determine the purpose of your presentation. Some presentations are informational and other are designed to persuade. Take the time to reflect about why you are creating the presentation.

Know your audience. For a presentation to have impact, it should be tailored toward those who will be attending. For example, if the room will be filled with scientists, the presentation should be filled with empirical evidence. On the other hand, if the folks seated before you are higher level executives, your strategy should be to provide points about how the topic would affect the big picture and stay away from using too many details to avoid disinterest.

Assemble the facts and present your data through stories. It is important to conduct research surrounding your topic to further bolster and defend your presentation. Sharing facts and figures shows the audience that you are well versed in the subject matter. Even better, be sure to make your data feel real by telling stories that back it up.  Speak from your own experience so the presentation will resonate with the audience and leave a lasting impression. 

Plan and organize. For your presentation to have a natural flow, you must take care in organizing it with three distinct sections: an introduction, the body of the presentation and a conclusion. The conclusion should clarify the course of action you want your audience to take. You will also want to take great care to stick to the main points and not get bogged down with extraneous information.  

Be liberal with the technology. A great presentation is visually engaging. Look toward multiple mediums to share your information. A great design, colorful charts and strategic use of animation can captivate your audience. 

Make room for improvement. After you step away from your original creation, go back to your presentation with a critical eye. Make sure there are no typos, that it flows smoothly and that your technology is working properly. You many also want to have a mentor or colleague review it and provide you with feedback.

Conduct a dress rehearsal. If you are new to making presentations, the best way to muster the confidence you need is to practice presenting it a few times. Stand in front of your mentor or a few colleagues and have them take special note of your delivery and body language. Pay close attention to the speed and volume of your words as well as body position and eye contact. Again, be open to an honest critique.


Giving a presentation can be intimidating – especially if this is the first time you have been asked to do so. Your mentor can be a great resource in helping you create and conduct a powerful presentation. Over the years they have most likely given many presentations of their own and can recall those they found to be most effective and memorable.  In preparation of your next (or first) presentation, plan to discuss the following with your mentor: