5 ways Business presentations differ from TED talks

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Approaching business-oriented presentations like the way you approach a TED talk is a recipe for disaster. Find the 5 ways a presentation in business differs from a TED talk and why.

A quick word about TED:

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences where presenters are given a forum to present their world changing ideas. These TED Talks presentations videos are easily available for showcase in various presentation skills training programs.

In this article we talk about why making effective presentations for business is not the same as winning in TED. You will see 5 ways in which an effective business presentation differs from every other ‘world changing’ presentation.  

Business audience is different from any other audience.

Business audience is decision oriented.

They are not there to learn, explore or to entertain themselves. They are there to evaluate and decide be it a presentation on your performance, your product or idea. This simple difference in their orientation fundamentally changes the way you format, deliver and judge the success of your presentation in the corporate world.

Here are the 5 differences in approach for an effective business presentation:

1.    Know where to start

In a ‘world changing presentation’, you explore a BIG idea and its validity. It is only natural that you lay all your facts on the table first and slowly build your argument towards a robust conclusion. Your audience would love you for your analytical thinking and thorough approach.

If you follow the same approach in presentations for business, your audience will get up and leave. They want you to tell them your conclusion first and build your arguments later.


opening a business presentation 

So, start every presentation for business with the end in mind. Put up an agenda on the first slide. Orient your audience at the start of your presentation by conveying the gist of your message up front.

Related Article: 4 creative ways to open a presentation with credibility

2.    Know the REAL roles of your audience

In a ‘BIG idea presentation’, your success depends on how well you convey your message to the people sitting in front of you.

audience in business and ted presentation

Many times your business audiences are just the ‘message carriers’. They relay your message to other decision makers in the organization – who take the final decision.

So, your success doesn’t just depend on how well you reach your message to the audience, but also depends on how memorable you make your message, so your audience relays it to the relevant people without much loss along the way.

Whenever you create a presentation for a business audience, ensure that your ‘core message’ is simple enough to be explained by your audience to those who are not in front of you. Make it memorable enough to last the time lag between your presentation and the next relay.

Related Article: How to think from your audience point of view

3.    Know your audience triggers

In a ‘warm and fuzzy presentation’ your main aim is to connect with your audience. You want them to FEEL the impact of the big issue on hand. So, you structure your presentation to evoke strong emotions first and later support those emotions with logic.

An effective business presentation is structured quite the opposite way:

Brain vs Heart in business presentations 

Realize that the decisions made during a business presentation are not personal. They are made for the organization.

Your audience is paid to be dispassionate. Unless your business presentation stands the test of ‘clear reasoning’ and ‘tangible proof’ it may not fly.

Our point is not to discredit the power of emotions in a business presentation. We just want to convince you of the importance of strong logic.

4.    Use the right tools for your presentations

In a ‘BIG idea’ presentation, where you want to evoke audience emotions, you may use tools like – personal stories, slides with full bleed photos etc. for most part and get great results.

To achieve success in a business presentation you need to go beyond:

emotions in business presentations 

You need to support your assertions with relevant charts. You need to explain your concepts with simple diagrams.

Full size photos with a few clever words in the corner may not cut it in a business presentation.

Related Article: Top 5 tips in using images in PowerPoint

5.    Make your point obvious

Your audience for ‘World changing presentations’ is in a mood to infer and extrapolate your information on their own. So, it is okay even if you leave behind subtle hints about what you want them to do.

Business presentation idea

Business audience is in a perennial hurry. They don’t have the time or patience to decipher your clever clues. You need to make your conclusions utterly obvious. You need to highlight your inferences from your charts, state your conclusions on the slide title and summarize your points periodically to leave no doubts in your audience’s mind.

Related Article: 5 steps to present data better.

Conclusion about TED vs business presentations:

We hope the above points helped you get a better understanding of the mindset of your business audience.

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