HOW TO
       WRITE A
By Ifiok Asuquo (FBC)

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A business plan is a written document that identifies a
company's goals and outlines how the company intends to
achieve the goals.

Just as important as the plan itself, the process of writing a
business plan forces an entrepreneur to think ahead, to set
achievable goals, to anticipate problems, and to be prepared
for competition.

You wouldn't think about setting off on a trip without a
destination, a plan how to get there, and a road map to be sure
you don't get lost. A good business plan is a roadmap for the

The process, not the plan itself, increases the likelihood that
the business will be a success. That’s why it is advisable for an
entrepreneur to do the writing himself.

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Components of a Business Plan

   • Executive Summary
   • Business Description
        o Mission Statement
        o Business Goals
        o Business Objectives
   • Market Analysis
   • Competitor Analysis
   • Operations
   • Financial Statements


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Executive Summary
The executive summary may be the most important part of
your business plan. It is the first part everyone will read, and it
may be the only part that some prospective investors will read.
The executive summary is a synopsis of the key points of the
entire business plan. Its purpose is to explain the fundamentals
of the business in a way that both informs and excites the
reader. An accurate summary will provide the reader with a
succinct explanation of the entire plan.
The traditional way to begin the executive summary is with a
statement of the firm's purpose, perhaps by integrating the
firm's mission statement and a few sentences about the
product or service the business will provide. Then try to
highlight a key point from each section of the plan -- the
primary target market from the market analysis section, the
principal source of competitive advantage from the competitor
analysis, the return on investment from the financial
statements, and so on. Conclude the executive summary with
the purpose of the business plan and a specific statement of
what you expect from the reader.

"How long should an executive summary be?” The answer is
"short". The executive summary should be at least one page
and not more than two pages in length. A good rule is that the
executive summary should be started in the middle of the plan-
writing process and be finished last.

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Business Description
The business description describes the nature and purpose of
the business and includes the firm's mission statement, goals,
value proposition, and description of products and services.

Business Concept

The business concept section gives the reader the big picture
about what the business will do and how it will succeed.

Industry analysis: A good way to open this section is with a brief
industry analysis. An industry is a group of businesses that
manufacture, distribute, or sell similar projects or services. An
industry analysis defines the industry in which the business will
operate. In analyzing your company's industry, be honest and
don't exaggerate.

Mission statement: With the big industry picture in the reader's
mind, narrow the focus to your business. After a few words of
introduction, state the mission of your business and provide a
brief justification and explanation about the importance of this
mission, perhaps in light of the industry analysis just presented.
A mission statement is a declaration of what a business aspires
to be.

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Business goals: Stating what you intend to do in your mission
statement is insufficient for most business plan readers, and
certainly so for all investors. In addition to stating what you are
going to do, you must also indicate how you are going to do it.
To do that you need to set some business goals.

Project objectives: If a mission statement expresses what is to
be done and goals state how the promise of the mission
statement is to be fulfilled, then project objectives answer the
when, where, who, and by how much questions. Be aware that
whereas a goal is a general statement about what needs to be
accomplished, an objective states a specific, short-term,
measurable, and verifiable condition that must exist to fulfill
the affiliated goal.

Value proposition: So far you have told the business plan
reader the answers to the what (mission statement), how
(goals), and when, where, who, and by how much questions
(objectives). What's missing? The answer to the why question.
The value proposition describes the benefits that a company's
products or services provide to customers and/or the
consumer's need that is being fulfilled. In other words, why
should a customer buy your product or service?

Finally, in your business concept, include any other important
information about the business that you feel is important for an
investor or other business plan reader to know. For example:
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   •   Any unique or special features about the business that will
       appeal to customers or encourage the success of the
   •   The legal form of the business: sole proprietorship,
       partnership, or corporation (optionally, this can be
       included in the operations section).
   •   If known and/or important, where the business will be
       physically located.
   •   If the business is an existing business, then a brief history
       and its current position in the marketplace can be

   Products and Services
   •   This section of the business description offers the reader a
       thorough and straightforward description of the products
       or services the business will provide to customers. For
       example, include product characteristics such as
       functionality, design, styles, and colors.
   •   The product/service description should be complete
       enough to give the reader a clear idea of your
       products/services, but not overly detailed or technical so
       the reader is confused or loses interest and attention. If
       the product is unusual or not easily described, include a
       picture or a drawing. If a range of products or services are
       being offered, highlight the principal one or two and list
       the rest of the range here and/or put the full
       product/service range in an appendix.

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A mission statement is a declaration of what a business aspires
to be. The statement is the business' reason for being, a
proclamation of why it exists, a clarification of who it serves,
and an expression of what it hopes to achieve in the future. A
carefully crafted mission statement accurately describes the
business and inspires the people who contribute to its success.

The process of writing the mission statement is just as
important as the statement itself. This process helps a new or
established business clarify questions such as:

   •   What business are we really in?
   •   What type of business do we want to be?
   •   What is our target market?
   •   What inspires us?

The writing process and the statement itself both provide
clarity of purpose and motivation for business success.

Mission statement characteristics:
A mission statement has the following key characteristics:

   •   Visionary: Above all else a mission statement offers a
       vision of what a business aspires to be. A visionary mission
       statement helps people understand what the business is
       about and how they can contribute to the achievement of
       the vision. So mission statements frequently contain
       wording such as "to be the best", "the highest quality",
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       and "in the world".

   •   Broad: A company cannot be all things to all people, but a
       mission statement should not limit a company's area of
       service or expertise too narrowly. Especially in the fast-
       paced world of electronic commerce, customer needs, and
       customers, can change rapidly. A mission statement
       should be broad enough to allow the company to meet
       those needs without annual revisions of the statement

   •   Realistic: The broad vision needs to be tempered with
       realism, to be both practical and workable. Mission
       statements that include everything or over promise will
       not give a clear indication of what the business is about. A
       lofty, unrealistic mission statement will not have great
       credibility. Instead the best statements are direct and

   •   Motivational: The statement should be written in such a
       way that it inspires commitment among employees,
       customers, partners, and funding agencies about what this
       company will do or produce. Some organizations
       emphasize the inspirational value of their mission
       statement above all else, using it to express the company's
       philosophy and values.

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   •   Easily understood: The statement should use plain
       language that is convincing and easy to understand. For
       example, a technology company's mission statement
       should not include jargon or technology concepts that are
       unfamiliar to people outside the area. Consider using the
       "grandmother test" on your mission statement -- would
       your grandmother understand what your company is
       about if she read your mission statement?

   The best way to understand what is a mission statement is to
   see what other companies. E.g.

   McDonalds: "McDonald's vision is to be the world's best
   quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means
   providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value,
   so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile."

   Infomania: "Our mission is to inform, inspire, and empower
   people and organizations to be their best -- both personally
   and professionally."
   Microsoft: "To enable people and businesses throughout the
   world to realize their full potential".

The place to begin is to realize that the process of writing a
mission statement is an inclusive process. All members of the
team must be involved in the process. Even if someone thinks
they are unable to contribute, essential buy-in to the concept
will be insured if their opinion is solicited at every step.

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A good place to start is with the vision part of the statement. In
a brainstorming exercise, conduct the following exercises to
clarify what you and others intend for the business to be:

   •   List 5-10 words or phrases that describe your business.
       Highlight the three most important.
   •   List 3-5 words or phrases that describe the company's
       ideal image from a customer's point-of-view.
   •   List 3-5 words or phrases that describe the company's
       ideal image from a management and employee point-of-
This vision must be tempered with a focus on the purpose of
the business:

   •   List the market opportunities and/or customer needs that
       your company intends to address (e.g., the business' value
   •   Who are your customers? List the company's primary and
       secondary target markets (target markets are discussed in
       the Market Analysis lesson).
   •   With your customers in mind, list each service or product
       your business will provide.
   •   List 3-5 measures of your business' success.

These exercises will provide you with the raw material
necessary to write a mission statement and other parts of the
business plan, as the parenthetical comments suggest.

If you are working in a group, you may find actually writing the
statement in a group exercise can be difficult. Instead each
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member of the group should write a draft statement which is
shared with others in a meeting to decide on the mission
statement. It is unlikely any individual's statement will meet
with instant approval. Instead the team should, in an open and
consensus-seeking discussion, look for the best parts in each
nominated statement and craft them together into a statement
most members can support.

Keep in mind that this is the first step in your business plan
writing process. If you can't agree on a perfect statement now,
then settle on an imperfect statement and come back to it
later. However it is essential that a preliminary mission
statement come out of this process as a guide in subsequent

A goal is a statement that clearly describes actions to be taken
or tasks to be accomplished by a company, a department or an
individual. A business will have a number of goals, each
describing a desired future condition toward which efforts are
directed. If the goals are accomplished, then the business
should be a success.

The dual purposes of goal setting are (a) to establish a measure
for evaluating the success of the business and (b) set priorities
for its management and staff, who will be held accountable for
the accomplishment of the goals. Goals help keep management
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focused on success and away from distractive activities that
drain business resources and accomplish little.

Business goal characteristics: Common characteristics of a
business goal are:

   •   Derived from the mission statement: The starting point in
       writing business goals is to ask "what do we need to do to
       accomplish our mission." In other words, a mission
       statement says "what" and business goals say "how".
   •   Task-oriented: A business goal must state what is to be
       accomplished as clearly as possible. Effective goals use
       action-oriented verbs such as deliver, implement,
       establish, and supply; avoid poor activity indicators such as
       facilitate and analyze that can mean nothing significant or
       measurable gets done.
   •   Specific: A goal must state, in one or two sentences, the
       conditions that will exist if the goal is to be accomplished.
       The more well-defined a goal is, the easier it will be to
       understand what is required and to measure successful
   •   Challenging: A goal should challenge the people who are
       responsible for its achievement. A goal should require
       considerable effort, but be achievable.
With the mission statement in mind, make a list of the things
that have to happen to fulfill that mission. This is an exercise
that focuses on the task-oriented characteristic of a business
goal. Then frame the goal statement and the brief explanation

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around the other goal characteristics -- especially specific and

As its name implies, project objectives are linked to a project.
Goals don't just happen. To carry out the tasks inherent in a
goal statement one or more projects are started. The outcomes
or deliverables of a project are its objectives.

A popular rule for writing good objectives is that they be
SMART objectives. The characteristics of a SMART objective

   •   Specific: The objective tells exactly what, where, and how
       the problem or need is to be addressed.
   •   Measurable: The objective tells exactly how much, how
       many, and how well the problem/need will be resolved.
   •   Action-oriented: The objective uses "activity indicators" to
       insure that something will be done. As with goal-setting,
       use action-oriented verbs such as deliver, implement,
       establish, and supply.
   •   Realistic: The objective is a result that can be achieved in
       the time allowed.
   •   Time-bound: The objective includes a specific date for its

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Market Analysis
The market analysis section of your business plan demonstrates
that you know your customers -- who they are, their
characteristics, and why they are likely to buy from your
business. The process of writing the market analysis requires
you to define your target markets and analyze how you will
position your product or service to arouse and fulfill their needs
in order to maximize sales.

In a full-scale business plan the market analysis is part of the
marketing plan section, which includes:

   • Market analysis: a definition and description of
     prospective customers, including target markets, size and
     structure of the customer base, and growth prospects.

       What are the target markets

       The first step in conducting a market analysis is to define
       your primary, secondary, and, perhaps, tertiary target
       markets. Your target markets are based on segmentation
       characteristics within the total addressable market. The
       segmentation is based on:

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           •    Demographic characteristics: specific, objective
                factors such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, education,
                occupation, and income.
           •    Geographic characteristics: location-based factors
                such as country, state, city, mobile workers, and
                lifestyle setting (e.g., rural versus urban).

           •    Psychographic characteristics: personality traits such
                as attitudes, beliefs, life experiences, needs, and
           •    Consumer characteristics: customer-based factors
                such as loyalty, shopping and frequency
       Determining the proper scope of the target markets is
       critical. If the definition of a target market is too broad, it
       will be hard to identify their information needs and you
       will waste money on promotion that won't get the results
       you want. If the target market is too narrowly defined, it
       will be difficult to find and generate a customer base that
       is profitable. This "market focusing" process is evident in
       the way marketers approach market analysis, working
       from the general (potential market) to the specific (market

       The potential market is the total number of people who
       could buy from your business. The addressable market is
       the group of individuals in the potential market who are
       likely to have an interest in what your business has to
       offer. The target market is the group(s) of individuals in
       the addressable market that are likely to buy from you. Of
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       course not everyone in your target market will buy from
       you because other factors strongly influence the share of
       the target market a business can reasonably obtain. The
       market share is the individuals in the target market who
       can be expected to make a purchase from your business.
       Your market share is affected by the structure of the
       industry, the impact of competition, strategies for market
       penetration, and the amount of capital the business is
       willing to spend in order to increase its market share.

       With 1-3 target markets identified, the next step is to
       conduct market research to provide some concrete data
       about them. In this section you are seeking answers to
       questions such as: What are the specific demographics
       (age, education, income, etc.) of these markets? How
       many individuals are in the target market? Are these
       markets growing, stable or declining?
   •   Pricing strategy: setting the price of the product or service
       based on methods such as cost-plus pricing, demand
       pricing, and competitive pricing; and the use of innovative
       pricing strategies such as penetration pricing, flexible
       pricing, and market skimming.
   •   Promotion plan: the communication channels you will use
       to make the customer aware of your product/service and
       convince them to purchase (e.g., advertising, on-line
       demonstration videos, packaging). Promotion also includes
       tracking your customers (e.g., confirming who are your

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       customers and how did they hear about you) and
       encouraging them to purchase again.
   •   Distribution plan: the distribution channel you will use to
       move the product or service to the customer (e.g., direct
       sales, wholesale distributors, brokers) and, if necessary,
       back again (e.g., returns).
   •   Demand forecast: estimates of product or service sales,
       based on the market analysis and assumptions about the
       effectiveness of the pricing, promotion, and distribution

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Competitor Analysis
Every business has competition and prospective business
owners ignore competitors at their peril. Unless a business has
an absolute monopoly on a life-essential product, there will be
competitors offering alternative and substitute products and
services. If you ignore or minimize the impact competition will
have on your business prospects, then you have an unrealistic
business plan.

There are different types of competitors your business will face.
Direct competitors are businesses that are offering identical or
similar products or services as your business. Indirect
competitors are businesses that are offering products and
services that are close substitutes. These competitors are
probably targeting your markets with a same or similar value
proposition, but delivering a different product. Future
competitors are existing companies that are not yet in the
marketplace that you intend to occupy, but could move there
at any time.

With a list of competitors in hand, the next step is to conduct a
methodical analysis of their strengths and weaknesses. A
competitor analysis grid is a valuable tool to compare
competitors from a number of perspectives -- company
information,      product/service     information,      customer
information, and sources of competitive advantage.

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Define your competitive position.

Tell the reader specifically what will give your business a
competitive edge in contrast to other competitors. For
example, your business will provide a full range of products,
competitors A and C don't. Or your business will provide after-
purchase customer service, something only competitor C does.
Or your merchandise will be of a higher quality and include a
money-back guarantee, something no other competitor does.
Competitive strategies: look at your product, pricing,
promotion, distribution, and service and ask the following

   •   Cost leadership: Can you be a low-cost producer and sell
       equivalent or better goods in the marketplace for less?
   •   Differentiation: How can you distinguish your product in
       the marketplace?
   •   Innovation: Is there opportunity to create a new way of
       doing business, perhaps one that changes the nature of
       the industry?
   •   Growth: Are there opportunities to expand production,
       sell into new markets, introduce new products?
   •   Alliance: Can current or prospective production,
       promotion, and distribution be improved through
       partnerships with suppliers, distributors, and others?
   •   Time: Can your business reduce product cycle time? Offer
       express customer service? Use time in other ways that
       your competitors are not doing?

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There may also be opportunities for you to:

   •   Lock in customers and suppliers
   •   Create switching costs for customers and/or suppliers
   •   Improve business processes
   •   Raise entry barriers for rivals and substitute products
   •   Create a strategic information system or strategic
       information base

The resulting positioning statement does not have to be
lengthy or pretentious, as long as it points out exactly how your
product or service will be perceived by customers as different,
and better, than what is offered by your competitors. State this
in a way such that the reader understands not only what your
competitive strategy is, but also why your strategy will work.

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Operations Plan
Here the scope of the business plan changes from the strategic
to the operational. operations are the processes through which
resource inputs are converted into useful outputs. Inputs
include raw materials, capital facilities, equipment, labor, and
management talent. Outputs include manufactured products,
services, information, and anything else the customer values.
The operations function creates what the business will sell and
the operations section of the business plan describes the
inputs, processes, procedures, and activities required to do so.
Operations play a critical role in the success of the organization
because operation is where value is produced. While the
business description section defines the product and its value
proposition, the operations section describes how that value is
efficiently produced. Many of the operational details depend
on the nature of the business itself.

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Financial Statements
"Money is the lifeblood of business." The financial plan
estimates the monetary resources and flows that will be
required to carry out the business plan. The financial plan also
indicates when and by how much the business intends to be
profitable. Finally the financial statements tell a lot about the
entrepreneur in terms of business commitment and financial
wherewithal to make the business a profitable success.

The financial statement (or the “financial plan”) is one of the
most closely scrutinized sections of any business plan. Investors
have been known to go from the executive summary straight to
the financial statements to judge the merit of a business plan.
Your business plan must address the financial issues of cash
flow, start-up capital and, of course, profit.

A financial plan should also contain a set of key financial ratios.
Financial numbers aren't always enough to convince an investor
that the business is a viable firm. Investors will want to
compare your financial projections with those from other
companies that have succeeded or failed. However, companies
differ in size and it is difficult to make comparisons when one
company is small and the other is large.

The financial statements section begins with a start-up budget
that details expected investment before the business starts to
operate (i.e., before the first sale is made). Next, a series of

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financial statements -- income and expense statement, balance
sheet, cash flow statement -- that project the financial future of
the company for the first 3-5 years after start-up are presented.
Depending on the nature of the business, supplemental
statements (not included here) may also be required: a
production schedule, income summary statement (income and
expenses at a glance), and, especially if the business is seeking a
large amount of funds from different sources, an investment

Start-up budget: If the business is a new one, you will need to
prepare a budget that defines the expenses required to start
the business, before it can begin to generate revenue through

Income and expense statement: An income and expense
statement is an accounting term for what most people call a
budget. The statement includes income items such as revenue
from sales and interest income. It also includes all anticipated
expense items, usually grouped into logical categories such as
cost of goods sold, administration expenses, interest, and taxes.
The statement concludes with various profit figures -- operating
profit, profit before taxes, and net profit.

Balance sheet: The balance sheet is a statement of the
business's assets (what it owns), liabilities (what it owes), and
owner's equity (what it is worth).

Whereas the income and expense statement shows financial
results for a period of time (e.g., year ending 31 December

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2003), the balance sheet is a snapshot of financial results at a
single moment in time (e.g., as of 31 December 2003). In
established businesses, a current balance sheet usually
presents previous year data too, for comparison purposes.

Cash flow statement: Even if the income and expense
statement shows profits and the balance sheet shows positive
owner's equity, you may still not have a viable business. Why
not? Because a business needs cash on hand in order to pay
bills. The purpose of the cash flow statement is to monitor
changes in the cash position of a business over a period of time.

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Putting it All Together
Congratulations! You are done! The plan is finished! Well,
almost. . . .

   • Finish the executive summary
   • Write a conclusion: end the business plan with a short,
     upbeat, and informative summary of what you are
     proposing to do and what you are expecting from the
     reader of the plan.
   • Do the entire formatting, spell-checking, etc.
   • Give the plan to a friend or classmate to read and suggest

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  Making an Effective Business Plan

Many business plans are not only written, they are also

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For example, if an investment decision has to be made by a
bank loan committee or consortium of venture capitalists, it is
more efficient to ask the business owner to make a
presentation to the group, rather than have each member read
the plan.

Presentations also allow an opportunity for interactive
questions and answers and for the investors to "size up" the
person to whom they are loaning money. This last point is not
an inconsequential consideration for both the investor and
business owner.

We cannot, in this lesson, make you a great presenter. That
takes knowledge of the subject, confidence, and experience.
However this lesson does start you on the path to being a
better presenter.

If a presentation is required as part of your course assignment,
your instructor will give you some guidance about length of
presentation, proper format, target audience, and so on. As
emphasized below, this is critical information for making an
effective presentation.

The lesson outline is:
Fundamentals of Presenting
Suggestions to Make a GREAT Presentation
--Content suggestions
--Presentation suggestions
Additional Resources for Preparing and Delivering an Effective

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Fundamentals of Presenting
Making an effective presentation isn't that difficult. The process
begins with a few fundamentals.

Know your target audience: As you did for the business plan
itself, prepare your presentation with the information needs,
expectations, attitudes, and knowledge levels of your intended
audience in mind. Think about questions such as:

   •   Who are they (professional positions, ages, backgrounds,
       roles in this meeting)?
   •   What do they already know (knowledge of your industry,
       knowledge of technical terms, have they read the plan
   •   What's in it for them (expected benefits, learning
       outcomes, decisions to be made)?

For example, assume the target audience for your business plan
presentation is a bank loan committee. In this context, the
presentation should give the committee an overview of your
plans and expectations, knowing that the detail is in the
business plan. The focus should not be on just marketing or just
financials, and certainly not on what the Web site will look like.
Instead the presentation should present an overview of the
business, sell the business idea, and conclude with financials
and your specific request for funds.

Timing counts: Your course instructor will determine how long
the presentation should be, including sufficient time for
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questions and answers. In a "real" presentation this counts too.
Clarify in advance how much time you will have and be sure to
leave time for questions and still conclude on time.

How many presenters?: You may have completed this business
plan as a group. So does everyone present? Or just one person?
In your in-class presentation as well as a formal business
presentation a lot of considerations impact on this decision. If it
is a short presentation, one person making the presentation is
probably the best choice.
Any presentation over 15 minutes long should probably have
more than one presenter, perhaps 10-15 minutes per
presenter. Why? Because it is unlikely that all expertise is
invested in just one person, a presentation is more interesting
to the listeners when there is a change in presenters, and
multiple presenters shows there is a depth of knowledge about
the business that is distributed in the group.

A useful presentation hint is that when it is time for questions,
all members of the group stand up and be prepared to answer
questions in their area. This reinforces that this was a group
effort and avoids putting the final speaker on the spot if a
question is asked that he/she cannot answer.

Print your presentation: Always have paper copies of your
presentation available for your audience, printed either three
or six slides per page. Whether to distribute these copies
before or after the presentation is a presenter's decision, but
most listeners prefer to have the copies in advance so they can

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follow along more easily and take notes. However, the
members of the audience sometimes focus on the handouts
and don't pay close attention to what the speaker is saying.
Also, if there are big surprises in the presentation, they can be
spoiled by listeners who read ahead. However, because most
listeners prefer copies in advance that is usually the best

Suggestions to Make
a GREAT Presentation
Many students enrolled in an e-business course will already
have had a course in business communications and/or other
opportunities to become an experienced presenter. However,
just in case, here are some suggestions or reminders how to
make a great presentation:

Content suggestions: The following suggestions are offered to
improve the content of the presentation, or what you say.

   •   First tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell
       them, finally tell them what you told them. These three
       make up the introduction, body, and conclusion of any
       great presentation.
   •   start with a title slide that includes the title of the
       presentation, who the presentation is for (the audience),
       who is presenting (you), and the date.
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   •   the next slide is an overview or agenda (i.e., "tell them
       what you are going to tell them"); introduce the
       presenters at the same time
   •   advise the audience whether questions should be asked
       during the presentation or at the end
   •   if appropriate, start with a powerful presentation opener
       — a startling statistic, a poem, a dramatic quotation, a
       confession, a surprising entry, meaningful humor, etc.
   •   in the presentation, consider the expertise of your
       audience (e.g., explain technical terms if necessary, avoid
       TLAs (three letter acronyms))
   •   use graphics, but make sure they are appropriate graphics
       and do not distract from the presentation or the content
       (e.g., avoid animation graphics which attract the
       audience's attention to the graphic and away from you)
   •   use humor, but make absolutely sure it is appropriate
   •   at the end, summarize the highpoints (i.e., "tell them what
       you told them")
   •   during question time, repeat questions from soft-spoken
       people or people in the front of the room so the audience
       know what is the question before you give the answer
   •   if you aren't sure of an answer to a question, don't be
       afraid to say "I don't know" and, if appropriate, promise to
       get back to them with an answer
   •   finish on time (if necessary, ask for "last question please")
   •   thank the audience for their time and attention

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Presentation suggestions: The following suggestions are made
to improve the presentation of the presentation, or how you
say it.

   •   use large fonts, 22 point is minimum size for text; a title
       should be 32 point or larger
   •   use a sans serif font such as Helvetica or Arial for normal
       text; use a serif font such as Times Roman or Book Antiqua
       in titles to show good contrast
   •   for emphasis, use bold, italic or all caps, but never more
       than one at the same time
   •   use no more than 36 words per slide
   •   use bullet points as "talking points" and avoid paragraphs
   •   try to use 3-6 points per slide
   •   be consistent and correct in capitalization
   •   as with any writing, use proper grammar, phrases or
       sentences must make sense, no misspelled words
   •   avoid bright colors; consider using light colors (e.g., white,
       yellow) on a dark background (e.g., dark blue)
   •   don't use primary colors (red, green, blue) together (e.g.,
       red text on blue background)
   •   when finished preparing the presentation, save two copies
       of the file (current version + earlier version) to two disks
       (working + backup) that are carried separately to the
   •   leave as much room light on as possible (people fall asleep
       in the dark)
   •   don't read your material from the slide

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   •   don't read from notes (having notes is okay, just don't
       read from them)
   •   don't talk to the screen, talk to the audience with only
       occasional glances at the screen
   •   don't use stick pointers (they focus your attention on the
       screen and can make you look like Zorro)
   •   use a laser pointer selectively, and put it down when it
       isn't being used
   •   establish eye contact with areas of your audience on a
       regular basis
   •   if appropriate and as time permits, involve the audience in
       the presentation (e.g., ask them a question, conduct an
       interactive exercise, conduct a lottery to give away a
       product sample)
   •   move around to keep the audience's attention, but don't
       move too fast or too far
   •   dress appropriately, to meet the audience's expectations,
       and slightly more formal than them
   •   don't hold objects in your hands, but do use your hands
       and arms for gestures; do not put your hands in your
   •   take clues from your audience (watch for "eyes glazed
       over" or "eyes shut") and take action to correct
   •   if the presentation is longer than 45 minutes, give your
       audience a stretch break
   •   conclude on time

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Finally, the most important three things to
know about making a GREAT presentation
practice, practice, and practice!

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Ifiok NKEM is a Freelance Business Consultant (FBC) and CEO
TRIPLEi Consults

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