You Have to Give a PowerPoint Presentation for Work—Now What?


We’ve all sat in on meetings as audience members, watching as our colleagues stood up and delivered information about company performance, training or new initiatives.

Giving a presentation in the workplace is practically a rite of passage—one that transcends time and technology updates. The need to clearly convey information persists across job roles, teams, departments and industries. So, it’s a safe bet sometime soon it’ll be your turn.

Hopefully, you find out you have to give a PowerPoint presentation for work with enough lead time to put together a great deck. But when you first find out you’ll be speaking in a meeting you might find yourself wondering:

Now what?

Where do I start?

How can I make sure this presentation successfully accomplishes its goals and reflects well on me as its source?


Understand Your Presentation Goals

The object of workplace presentations tends to be more about meeting specific communication goals than dazzling your audience with a TED Talk-like storytelling voyage. Before even researching or opening PowerPoint, make sure you understand exactly what you’re setting out to do.

The Muse advises workplace presenters reframe the topic of their presentation—like “marketing plan”—into the specific question they’re trying to answer—like “How do we grow revenue by 25 percent next year?”

Define your goals, then build the content of your presentation to fulfill them. Only then will your presentation for work knock it out of the park in terms of effectiveness, producing the best outcomes for everyone involved.


Understand Your Audience

It’s also highly important to understand who will be in the room that day. Are you presenting on a technical topic—like legal compliance or advanced data analytics—to a team of non-specialists? This will look very different than giving a marketing presentation to a group of marketers.

Identify how much your audience already knows about the topics at hand so you know how much you’ll need to explain vs. what’s already generally understood among group members. This will help you avoid wasting time, inadvertently patronizing your audience or confusing viewers with the information they lack the context to understand.


Prepare for Viewer Questions & Comments

Traditional presentation models have typically relegated question-and-answer sessions to the very end. But the longer people have to wait between having a question and getting an answer, the less impactful and relevant the response will be—and that’s if they even remember to ask it!

This is why there’s been such a shift toward interactive PowerPoints capable of facilitating real-time interaction between viewers and speakers. Live polling plug-ins like Poll Everywhere allow speakers to create interactive icebreakers, check for audience retention with multiple-choice questions, solicit anonymous audience responses and more.

Treating your work presentation as more of an ongoing dialogue with colleagues than a one-way static delivery of information goes a long way toward boosting engagement. Not only will viewers have an easier time paying attention, but they’ll retain more value from the session, too.


Build Confidence Before the Big Day

You know to whom you’ll be presenting, and you understand the goals you’re aiming to achieve. You’ve prepared to facilitate an interactive back-and-forth. Now the last thing left on your list is to build your confidence for the big day.

What does this entail? Quartz at Work has a few suggestions.

  • Double-check numbers, facts, figures, formatting, etc.
  • Mimic how an airplane takes flight; get up to cruising altitude with easy material before diving into more complicated info.
  • Optimize your presentation’s structure, look and feel to maximize impact.
  • Always remember that you’re the subject matter expert in this situation.

You have to give a PowerPoint presentation for work. Don’t panic—just plan.

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