Building an emerging new business requires a lot of meetings and presentations, whether for the purpose of selling a product to potential clients or pitching your business to investors. Some people were just born with stage presence and excellent public speaking skills; they thrive on winning their audiences. Of course, others get nervous and spend the night before worrying about how badly they will embarrass themselves.

Whether you are natural or not, presentations are now a staple in the business world. Luckily, the ability to deliver great presentations can be learned. Here are our top tips:

Tell stories, not statistics

Don’t be overly reliant on the slides of your PowerPoint deck. You might need them to show the audience what you are talking about, perhaps statistics or a visualization of your talk. But spreadsheets and data are not enough to compel an audience. Human beings are conditioned to pay attention to stories. Use only the statistics that matter, and incorporate the data into storytelling. What do the numbers mean? Take note that personal and authentic stories induce the strongest reactions, so blend together personal anecdotes and data for powerful presentations.

Know your audience

Don’t assume that your audience will easily understand the content of your presentation. If your audience comprises of beginners, then it goes without saying that you shouldn’t prepare advanced-level materials. Or if you work for a tech company and launch into many industry-specific terms, it’s likely you will lose your audience. If you happen to know the names of people in your audience, do some quick research on LinkedIn or Facebook. You’ll gain some insight into their backgrounds and interests. Then you can create a more personalized presentation material based on your findings.

Involve the Audience

No matter how compelling your presentation is, there will always be an audience member or two who will be bored. Attract their attention! Try to encourage audience participation in every presentation you give. Asking them questions is a tried and true trick. Consider asking for a few volunteers for a demonstration or to emphasize your point. Have group activities to break up the monotony. Just do your best to persuade audience engagement.

Don’t forget your key message

Some of the most charming and engaging presentations end up being ineffective because the speaker lost track of his or her key message, making it difficult for the audience to remember what the point of the presentation was. Tie your presentation together. Repeat the key message of your presentation in its conclusion. Remember that the number goal of a presentation is to convince the audience how amazing your idea or your business model is.

Now that you know how to deliver a winning presentation, it’s time to brainstorm and write down your materials! Remember: you want to convince your audience of your arguments. Make sure your arguments make sense, back them up with data, and touch your audience emotionally.

Want more ideas on business development and management? Try reading “Building a Business Network? 3 Helpful Tips” and “4 Tips to Win More Clients for Your Small Business”.