When preparing a presentation, you must be clear about your goals and objectives and how they relate to the needs of your audience. Consider also what action you want your audience to take and focus your presentation on what will most effectively persuade them to take that action.

Three Major Elements

Here, we introduce the three major elements you must include to create an effective presentation.

  • Why: Goals and objectives
  • Who: Your target audience
  • How: Call to action


Generally, the goals and objectives of your presentation represent your desired outcomes and what you are trying to communicate. Your goal for one presentation may simply be to inform or educate your audience but for another, it might be to inspire or motivate. Goals typically explain “why” your presentation will be important.

How do you discuss your goals and objectives in your presentation? It should be included at the start of your presentation in bullet form, and it should be short and succinct, these allow them to quickly understand your intention while demonstrating what are you trying to achieve.

How could these considerations of goals and objectives also be incorporated into other aspects of entrepreneurship and starting a small business? Some other examples of where these considerations come into play include:

  • Business communications
  • Advertising
  • Social media and web marketing
  • Social impact
  • Sales and customer relationship management


Your target audience refers to the demographic that you are aiming to persuade, educate, or inspire with your presentation. Your target audience represents the “who” of your presentation.

What role does your target audience play in a presentation? It’s so important for you to consider who you seek to influence with the information shared in your presentation. Understanding this will inform your style of writing and storytelling, and it will establish your pace and help you design your presentation. Take time to brainstorm what the intended audience cares about and incorporate those points into your presentation.


The call to action is arguably the most important part of your presentation. It typically comes at the end and clearly de?nes what you are asking your audience to do and how you want them to take action. The call to action represents the “how” variable and describes how your audience can take the information you’ve shared in your presentation and use it.

What is so important about call to action at the end of a presentation? The call to action is the moment that the audience has been waiting for. It describes what you need from them. Your call to action helps to galvanize people around your intention. You always want to have a slide that specifically maps out what you need or how the audience will use what they learned in your presentation. When creating your call to action, you must ask yourself, how can the audience take the information and use it? As you progress through your talking points, you are working to deepen the audience’s understanding and investment in your message. Make your ask, as you near the end of your presentation. Do it humbly but boldly. Trust that what you have to say has meaning and the right people will feel the same.

Identify Your Target Audience

When developing, practicing, and eventually giving your presentation, it is important to consider what content and type of presentation will support your goals and objectives, your audience, and your call to action. Think about how you will deliver your presentation to optimize each of those items. If your content includes any physical or audio-visual supplements, be sure to prepare those ahead of your presentation. Whether you are giving your presentation remotely or in-person, careful planning must also be given to those logistics.

Types of Presentations

Different types of presentations serve a variety of purposes and depending on your audience or call to action, you may want to blend elements from different presentation types to most effectively persuade. Below are some examples of presentation types.

Business Pitch Presentation

A business pitch is a type of presentation that is often used by entrepreneurs. It explores how to align an innovative and marketable idea with people who can enable the growth and development of that idea into a business. The target audience for a business pitch may include those that can fund, support, or provide other resources for that new business.

Typically with a business pitch, the presenter is expected to communicate the amount of funding or support they are seeking to receive for their venture from the funders, investors, and supporters in the audience. This is known as the ask. When you are delivering a business pitch, you are building a case for how your business will be successful. Conclude your presentation with your specific ask(s) of the audience e.g. you are seeking $20,000 in funding to start your business.

What’s included in a business pitch presentation? Ask yourself:

  • How would you communicate the need for funding?
  • How can you effectively walk potential funders through your business model and share your unique value proposition?

As funders want to feel confident that you’ve done your research, you also need to ensure you include:

  • Any customer or market research
  • Financials
  • Any other relevant data

Remember, people invest in ideas and in other people. So make sure you tell them who you are and why your business is important to you.

Informative Presentation

An informative presentation functions to teach concepts to an audience that may have differing levels of existing understanding of those concepts. The target audience for an informative presentation entirely depends on the subject matter. If the presentation is designed to have some basic level of instruction, the audience may include people new to the topic. With the rise of video tutorials across the web and on social media, informative presentations can offer educational insight, teachable moments, and can also provide instruction on how to improve a particular skill.

More often than not, an informative presentation will feature at least some educational components. When that is the case, try to follow three of the most helpful steps in teaching and learning. First, outline for your audience what you will be teaching them. Then, teach them. Finally, at a summary level, remind your audience what you taught them. This simple method of outlining, teaching, and summarizing the presentation content will provide a dynamic learning experience for your audience.

An informative presentation is designed to educate and provide construction, what is unique about an informative presentation?

  • Always start with your intention and think through how to inform and teach in an engaging way
  • Think through what is the most relevant for your audience to know
  • Why that information is important
  • Be prepared to describe any nuances you want your audience to consider

A great way of doing above is starting off your presentation with guiding questions and outlining what you want your audience to consider while listening to your presentation.

Decision-Making Presentation

Every day, we are presented with opportunities to make decisions with some having a more significant impact than others. Decision-making presentations typically involve multiple parties, or stakeholders, and begin by identifying a problem and a goal. The next step is to collect as much relevant information and data as possible about the problematic situation. From there, options for solving the problem and meeting the goal must be evaluated to determine how each stakeholder will be affected by the decision made. Once all options are assessed throughout the presentation, a decision is made to implement the solution for the problem. Note: relevant information and data can be gathered prior to the meeting and included in the presentation.

When possible and prior to your decision-making presentation, brief some of the known supportive audience members about the content and decision to be made. Their support may be instrumental in terms of succeeding with your presentation and decision making effort.

What’s the importance of a decision-making presentation? The purpose of a decision-making presentation is to guide your audience towards a position, where they can produce decisions based on what they’ve learned. When creating this kind of presentation, you should:

  • First outline the problem you want the audience to solve
  • Walk then through any relevant information that will help inform their decision. This can include:
    • Qualitative or quantitative data
    • Strategies that were implemented in the past and any results based on that
  • If you have any recommendations that you want the audience to consider, you should include those as well
  • Lastly it would be helpful for you to conduct additional research on best practices for decision-making processes when planing your presentation

Professional Development

You need preparation and practice

It doesn’t matter what type of presentation you are giving, preparation and practice are two key ingredients that will lead to your success. Try to rehearse your presentation in front of a trusted friend or colleague and ask for their feedback. Alternatively, video or record yourself while you practice. As you practice, you may want to rely on notes, however, do your best to keep them to one or two words at a time to be used to kickstart your memory. Trust yourself that you can speak confidently and with energy on your subject matter. All of these practices are also helpful for reducing nervousness about public speaking which can be a very intimidating ordeal for some.

What are some best practices for public speaking?

When presenters are nervous or running out of time, they tend to miss key talking points or they speak too quickly for their audience to effectively understand and absorb what is being said or presented. This is a very common pitfall when speaking publicly so it is important to practice speaking clearly, audibly, and at half the speed you are normally comfortable speaking at. To avoid having to rush through any material, be sure to time your practice session to ensure that it fits within the allotted time. If you find that your presentation is running over time, avoid speaking faster to include everything. Instead, cut or modify your presentation’s content to make it fit in the time available. If you happen to forget something or if you make a mistake while presenting, the best practice is simply to proceed and move on as planned.

As you practice public speaking there are also some higher level actions to keep in mind for when you feel more comfortable presenting. When possible, acknowledge your audience. Thank them for their time, attention, and willingness to listen to you. Be sure that your voice and body language dynamics are appropriate for your audience. For example, making eye contact with your audience or varying the intonation of your voice are both important tools for listeners of many cultures and backgrounds, helping capture and maintain their attention.

A Note on Questions: Asking and Answering

Any successful presenter will say that engaging with your audience is one of the most important practices you can develop. One way to do this is by asking your audience questions – ask what they know already on the topic and make minor adjustments to your presentation and script to accommodate that. Find out what interests your audience and see if you can pivot your presentation to reflect those interests. Often, the best presentation is not a presentation, it’s a discussion and sometimes, rather than asking the questions, you will be responsible for answering them. If your presentation includes a question and answer session, be sure to save enough time for it. Try to anticipate any potential questions you might be asked and what your responses to them would be.

Avoid reading your slides to the audience

Sometimes people who are not comfortable with public speaking or are concerned they will forget something try to compensate for this by putting all their text on the slides and reading them to the audience. This is not a good practice. Use key points and narration instead.

How to create an effective slide presentation?

You should consider 3 things:

  • Audience
    • Understanding your audience will help determine how best to craft your message as you want to ensure what you share will be easily understood
  • Intention
    • Have a clear intention is vital
    • Always consider 2 things
      • What do you want your audience to know?
      • Why does it matter?
  • Pace
    • The pace and the structure of your presentation should feel as if you are telling a story, through words, images, and even videos
    • Each slide should be connected to your intention and structured in a way that deeps the audiences understanding behind your why
    • What you shared in your presentation should be succinct and include high level talking points
    • Know that your intended audience wants to quickly understand your goals and objectives as your audience wants to know why they are there, make sure you tell them from the onset. This help
    • Consider providing an outline or agenda
    • Clearly state
      • What you wish to solve
      • How you seek to get there
      • What resources are needed to meet your desired outcome
    • Remember, you get to craft the story, so keep it relevant and engaging