how to make a PowerPoint networking presentation
Not all business-related presentations are about the hard sell. If you are a part of a networking group you might from time to time have the opportunity to present to the other members. However, a PowerPoint presentation to a networking group is a very different beast to the one you present to potential clients.
Creating a networking presentation in PowerPoint can actually be a lot of fun. Look at it this way: the people in the group are not your customers. They might have no interest at all in what you or your company is offering. But, what they might be interested in, is you. Your personality, your backstory, your ambition. These are the things that will encourage other networkers to want to engage with you.
A different animal
More often than not, your time to present to a networking group will be a lot more restricted that it would be to a potential client. You might be used to giving presentations in your own style that last upwards of 20 minutes. But with networking, be prepared to have no more than around five to ten minutes, depending on the constraints of the group.
That isn’t a lot of time for your PowerPoint, so you need to be extremely selective and careful about what goes into your networking presentation. Consider also that those precious few minutes represent the total time allotted for you to speak. Any questions need to be dealt with, too. Damn, this is getting stressful.
Let’s say you’ve been given a ten minute slot in which to present yourself to the networking group. For that, we’d suggest that a ten slide PowerPoint presentation would be best suited, to back up what you’re going to talk about. But what are you going to talk about?
There are two important things to communicate when giving a PowerPoint networking presentation:
- Who you are and what you do
- How the people in the room can send you business
The other members are not your target audience, but they might know people who potentially could be. Therefore they need to clearly understand what you do and how you do it, and how they can then connect with you.
But more importantly, they’ll need to trust you. If they are recommending you to their own clients, they are essentially putting faith in you not to make them look foolish and unprofessional. Can you fit all that in ten slides? Yes. Read on.
With so little time at your disposal, you need to make an impact to begin with. We suggest you keep things as personal as possible and introduce yourself with a story. Tell them how you came to be standing up before them that day, and how that journey shaped and informed what it is you do.
You might think that freelancers and one-man-band businesses might have more of a story to tell here, fighting against the odds and setting out on their own. But even if you work for a large and established company that doesn’t mean you don’t have a tale to tell. Show them who you are. Show them what kind of person you are, and what it would be like to work with you.
Your opening couple of slides might have nothing to do with your business or work. Think personal photos of you that backup your story, places you’ve been on the road to getting here, and maybe also examples of some work you’ve completed. There is no hard sell here. As long as the information you present at this stage is relevant to the group getting a sense of who you are, you’ll succeed.
Ramping it up
Once you have their attention and interest, divert your focus to what it is you do now. Detail what you can offer with a blow by blow (yet brief and direct) account of your strengths, skills, and ambitions. Just as you would tailor a sales pitch to a specific customer or organisation, keep in mind that your audience is also of a certain type.
Consider why you’re networking in the first place. You’re there to build contacts of individuals who might one day be of use, be it to recommend, hire, or be hired by. So remember that that is the reason why your audience is gathered before you now and tailor what you say to that. If anything, that should take some of the pressure off as no one is judging you. Nor are they going to give you any kind of decision immediately after. They are, essentially, in the same boat as you. That might be strange for die hard salespeople.
One important factor to consider when rolling into the meat of your PowerPoint networking presentation is… wait for it… ditching PowerPoint for a while. We don’t mean ditch it altogether, no way. But, at stages, lessen the importance of your slides. If you only have ten slides to use, use them right. That might mean not really drawing attention to any them while you speak, especially when you describe your role.
Burn through the first few telling your ‘origin’ story. But then consider the impact of a slide containing only your company logo while you explain what you do. If you need a visual reference point, one crucial to them understanding your business, fine. Just remember they are interested above all in you.
Out with a bang
With the clock ticking, and the networking group organiser checking their watch, it’s time for you to wrap up. Just as you opened with an imagination-capturing story, so you should end with something equally enticing.
Some of the networking presentations we’ve heard ended with a description of how the audience could help them. Try to avoid that as it might pigeonhole their thinking about what you are looking for. There is the chance that one of those audience members could refer or introduce you to a person or business you’d never thought about approaching. Essentially, let the other networkers process how you could be a help to them, and vice versa.
Once you have taken a few questions, and hopefully kept to your tight time allotment, considering your closing message. We have in the past been bombarded by dozens of business cards at networking events. We received so many once, that we honestly couldn’t remember who had impressed us the most.
Your final slide could help here. Allow a slide containing your web address, logo and social channels to remain on screen while you take a few questions. Leave it while you make your thanks and prepare to yield the floor to the next presenter. That will leave a great impression.
Audience members might be disinclined to open up Twitter on their phones to follow you while you’re speaking. That’s especially true in a small group, as it seems rude. Give them the chance to do so during the end and transitional part of the presentation, and there is more chance you’ll pick up a few new followers.
Handouts can also be useful here. You might be sick of being given a pointless bit of paper every time you watch a presentation, but one that stands out from the mass of business cards, and one that includes a very brief summary of what you just presented, could be impactful.
Hopefully, with the right combination of slides, words, and enthusiasm, your PowerPoint networking presentation will lead to new partnerships and booming business.
For advice and inspiration with building those networking slides, check out this blog post about getting started with PowerPoint.
Also read this one for help with improving your public speaking confidence and overcoming stage fright.
Alternatively, for help with building a deck from scratch, talk to one of our expert designers today. Y’know, network with us.