Recently, I was privileged to review industry presentations made by MBA students at a globally ranked business school in Africa.

Every year, as part of the Careers Day events, final-year MBA students are required to conduct research and present industry reports to a mixed audience of industry experts, reputable companies, and recruiters – in the hope of securing attractive placements. The reports should be detailed, relevant, and timely. So understandably, the students focus on displaying persuasive presentation skills to grab the attention of decision-makers.

I attended the virtual rehearsals, along with other faculty members. I was invited to review the students’ presentations and offer advice that would enable them to present their ideas with clarity, passion, and confidence. The students had done a lot of work, and I was impressed by the content they shared. One group focused on the global economy, while the other students presented their industry reports on the oil and gas industry, the banking industry, the fast-moving consumer goods industry, and the ICT industry. The effort notwithstanding, I quickly noticed changes that needed to be corrected – from cluttered slides and punctuation errors to a lack of energy, weak nonverbal cues, and awkward transitions between team members in groups. While the faculty members in rehearsals recommended changes to the content to ensure relevance and accuracy, I focused on the MBA students’ communication skills and delivery.

Time was of the essence as the students had less than 24 hours after the second virtual rehearsal to tweak their content and practise. Frankly, I was unsure they would be able to pull off convincing presentations.

The day arrived, and predictably, a few presentations were average. But those that immediately stood out from the others and had me smiling and applauding from the comfort of my home incorporated practical elements.

Now, we live in a global village, which requires us to collaborate in teams in virtual events due to the ongoing pandemic. It’s also become the norm to give virtual presentations and collaborate with team members in different geographical regions.  

So if you want surefire results, adopt the five techniques below that the MBA students used in the presentations to supercharge your delivery.

1) Use the foundational question to ensure your content is relevant

The foundational question forces you to discern your presentation’s critical information. It also helps you rid your content of details that add no real value to your content. You’ll need to become ruthless in cutting material, which, although interesting to know, won’t advance your points. Imagining yourself as a member of the audience, asking yourself the foundational question—and having the courage to act on what you find—is a practical way to ensure that your content is relevant and thus valuable for the audience. The MBA students were not afraid to remove details that didn’t strengthen their ideas, and neither should you.

2) Keep your virtual group presentation simple, brief, and clear

You won’t be able to present ideas effectively without considering these three beacons anyway.

So, first, ensure that your content is simple. The MBA students’ industry presentations that I found were remarkable were packed with valuable insights, but more importantly, they were easy to understand. The content was devoid of industry jargon, and the language used was simple enough for someone like me to understand. (My eyes usually glaze over when subjected to complicated analysis, and I switch off). Simplicity is underrated. It requires you to understand your subject matter thoroughly before breaking it into digestible bits that a 12-year-old would understand.

Next, you’ll need to keep your presentations concise. Each group of students only had seven minutes, so I advised them to cut their slides during the rehearsal. Now, some experts argue that the content on slides, and not the number of slides, is the issue. But I disagree. Suppose you have 20 slides and only 10 minutes for your entire presentation. Even allotting a minute to each slide will cause you to exceed your slot. For business presentations, especially those delivered virtually, less is more. Keep your audience engaged with fewer slides. If you’d gathered your information after asking yourself the foundational question, then you’ve already ensured that every slide in your presentation has earned its position there. Note that holding your audience’s attention, despite other distractions, will be easy if you get to your point as quickly as possible. Be brief.

Finally, your virtual group presentation must be clear; it must have a call-to-action. For example, what do you want your audience to know, feel, or do? For the MBA industry presentations, the students made explicit recommendations on what industry captains should do to improve their business results. Follow that example: Be clear about the next steps your audience members should take for the optimum results.

If your presentation does not adhere to the three beacons of effective communication by being simple, brief, and clear, then your preparation is not complete.

3) Ensure strong openings and memorable closings

I beamed with pride when the MBA students began their presentations with solid statements, rhetorical questions or quotes – especially when they paired their opening and closing remarks with pauses and loud, clear tones.

The group presentation that merited my applause ended with a strong conclusion. The speaker came full circle; he began with a question and then finished by referring to the same question before answering it.

Everyone remembers strong openings and memorable closings, so nominate your most dynamic team members to do both.

Don’t be predictably dull.

I beamed with pride when the MBA students began their presentations with solid statements, rhetorical questions or quotes – especially when they paired their opening and closing remarks with pauses and loud, clear tones.

The group presentation that merited my applause ended with a strong conclusion. The speaker came full circle; he began with a question and then finished by referring to the same question before answering it.

Everyone remembers strong openings and memorable closings, so nominate your most dynamic team members to do both.

Don’t be predictably dull.

4) Be mindful of nonverbal cues

Unfortunately, a few presentations were forgettable because of the lacklustre nonverbal cues. In one group presentation, only the speaker’s head was visible. I quickly disengaged from her talking head.  To boost trust, she should have elevated her laptop so that at least her neck and her hands (and gestures) could be seen. She also didn’t vary her tone or volume, so her delivery lacked depth.

By contrast, another speaker in a different group spoke eloquently and used gestures. Even though she made a few slips, her overall presentation was refreshing.

If you want to keep your audience engaged, then you’ll need to coax their attention with your nonverbal cues. Look into the camera when you’ve stopped sharing your screen, increase your volume, change your pitch, and use pauses.  Where appropriate, use gestures to stress points.

One tip I advised the MBA students to use was to slow down when delivering their final remarks. This technique causes your audience to hang on to your last few words, especially when you’re ending with a strong statement or making a declaration.

Give your audience an experience.

5) Practise your transitions as a group

The mistake speakers tend to make in virtual group presentations is that each team member concentrates on his/her segment and tunes off for the rest. So what you get is a collection of individual mini-presentations with no glue connecting them– instead of one seamless presentation with different speakers.

One glaring proof that group members have not rehearsed together from the beginning to the end is the absence of seamless transitions. And during the virtual rehearsals before the event, I challenged each MBA group to ensure that the switch from one speaker to another team member was effortless.

For example, a team member, when finishing her section in the presentation, might say:

I’ve proposed some steps we need to take to reduce inflation by 20% per cent. But what are the challenges we could encounter? My teammate, John, has identified three critical areas we need to consider to be better prepared“. (Pause).


The three problems that our government is likely to face when embarking on the blueprint to reduce inflation by 20% per cent are…”

One MBA group’s transitions were so effective that the next speaker who continued easily matched the passion of the previous speaker.

A good transition is like the efficient passing of the baton in a relay race at the Olympics. If you drop the baton, you disrupt the flow of the presentation and create awkward moments for the next speaker.

Encourage your group members to focus on the entire delivery. They should cultivate the mindset that the team’s success is dependent on the final product being greater than the sum of its parts.


So the next time you and team members need to deliver a persuasive virtual presentation that leads you to the results you deserve, remember the recommendations made in this post.

Above all, note that practising together as a team ensures a positive outcome and excellent team dynamics that would serve you well in subsequent collaborations.

When you incorporate the five techniques provided, you’ll banish drab virtual group presentations and wow your audiences with your relevant content, engaging delivery, and flawless finish.

Did you know?

My book Influence and Thrive recently became a bestseller on Amazon Australia and Canada for the paperback and Kindle versions, respectively!

I’m beyond excited and can now change my title to ‘Bestselling author’. How cool is that?

View the screenshots below of Amazon Australia’s paperback format, where the book is ranked #12 in the ‘Workplace Communication’ and ‘Business Writing (Books) categories.

Amazon Australia bestseller
Amazon Australia bestsellers rank

And below are the screenshots of the Amazon Canada Kindle bestseller list and categories where the book is ranked #28 and #23 in the ‘Business Communications (Kindle Store)’ category.

Amazon Canada bestseller
Amazon Canada bestsellers rank

Thank you to everyone who made my debut business book a bestseller seven months after it was published!

So in appreciation of your support of my book, I’ve uploaded Chapter 4 of Influence and Thrive on my book website and made it free to download. Just visit here and click on the download button. You don’t even need to provide your email address. If you enjoy the chapter and want to buy the Kindle/ebook, paperback, or hardback, click on the retail buttons on the website.

If you enjoy the free chapter, remember that you can order the ebook, paperback, or hardback copies on Amazon or from your preferred retailer worldwide.  And please post your reviews wherever you buy the book, especially on the review page of my book website. Your reviews really help the book gain more visibility – which will make me ecstatic.

Over to you:

Do you need help in boosting communication skills to get you results? Sign up here for my free quarterly newsletters and learn best practices. When you sign up, you’ll receive my evergreen resource on giving persuasive presentations. Ensure you download that document and refer to it before any high-stakes presentation or speech.

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N.B: First  image is  courtesy  of Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay. Second image is courtesy of Geralt via Pixabay. Screenshots of Amazon bestseller lists are courtesy of Lucille Ossai. Last image is courtesy of Alexa’s Fotos via Pixabay.

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