Effective Presentation Techniques: What Does The Research Say?

presentation techniquesAs part of my MA dissertation I have been researching the characteristics of effective business presentations and the presentation techniques that the experts use. I’ve been seeking the answer to the questions; what makes a business presentation effective? What differentiates a business presentation that gets results from one that results in a huge snore (or worse!)?

In order to answer those questions I’ve dug deep into what those experts say. I began by analysing ten of the best-selling books on the topic and, using a combination of content analysis and a more extensive documentary research and analysis, I’ve identified both the characteristics and the perceived importance, or priority, of those characteristics (you can see a bibliography of the books used at the bottom of this post).

In order to cross check the findings and for a more extensive study, I’ve ‘talked’ to ten business consultants and trainers on social media and interviewed three consultants.

OK, so that’s the ‘how I did the research’ part over. So, what do you think the characteristics of an effective business presentation are? Drum roll please…..

The Characteristics of Effective Business Presentations

The seven common characteristics of an effective business presentation established by the research are:

  • a presenter skilled at using delivery techniques
  • knowledge of the audience
  • a clear and effective structure
  • a defined goal
  • the use of stories
  • an introduction that includes the aim
  • the effective use of visual aids

Effective Business Presentation Techniques: What about you?

Surprised? Well I guess not. Maybe a more interesting question would be; how many of these characteristics or techniques do you demonstrate in preparing for and delivering your presentations? Me? I’d say I’m pretty good at delivery techniques, structure, defining the goal and I always have an introduction that includes the aim. Knowledge of the audience? Use of stories? I definitely could improve in these areas! What about you?

In this short series of blogs I’ll be looking at each of the characteristics in a little more depth. In the next blog we’ll consider what the research says about delivery techniques. See you there?


Courville, R. 2012. The Virtual Presenters Handbook. Oregon, US: 1080 Group LLC.

Davies, G. 2010. The Presentation Coach. Bare Knuckle Brilliance For Every Presenter. Chichester, UK: Capstone Ltd.

Duarte, N. 2012. HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Boston, US: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

Khan-Panni, P. 2012. FT Guide to Making Business Presentations. London: Financial Times Press / Pearson Education Ltd.

Ledden, E.  2013. The Presentation Book: How to Create It, Shape It and Deliver It. Harlow, UK: Pearson Ltd.

Lomas, B. 2010. Successful Presentations. Richmond, UK: Crimson Publishing.

Mills, D. et al (eds). 2010. The Book of Management. London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd.

Morgan, N. 2014. Presentations. Sharpen Your Message, Persuade Your Audience, Gauge Your Impact. Boston, USA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

Siddons, S. 2008. The Complete Presentation Skills Handbook. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

Zelanzy, G. 2006. Say it with presentations. How to Design and Deliver Successful Business Presentations. NY, USA: McGraw Hill



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