Making a memorable presentation can increase your chances of winning the business of prospects. Typically, people attend a presentation to learn something new, gain interesting insights or obtain answers on the best ways to meet their needs or goals.

To grab their attention, says Caroline Grimont, vice president of marketing with Excel Funds Management Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., “You’ve got to cut to the chase” and provide them with ideas they haven’t heard before.

“Your goal,” Grimont adds, “is to drive home your message so that you can engage your audience members in conversation after the presentation.

And if your presentation is memorable, you will most likely hear from them again.

Here are five tips to help you make a memorable presentation:

1. Know your audience
Making a presentation is about what your audience wants to hear, not only about what you want to tell them. So, make sure you know your audience — their needs, wants and fears. This may involve some research.

“Tailor your message to exactly what they want,” Grimont says. “No fluff. Provide them with actionable ideas.”

2. Have powerful content
Grimont suggests using a “20/20 rule” — that is, 20 slides in 20 minutes. Each slide should have five sentences or less, enhanced by images.

“You will therefore have to carefully plan your content,” she says, “highlighting only key points you wish to get across,”

Choose dramatic, colourful images wherever possible to hold your audience’s interest. Use stories to reinforce your message.

Bear in mind, says Grimont, that your entire presentation should have a single core purpose, and all material should be chosen to advance that purpose.

3. Make every slide count
Your title page should be memorable and provide the “hook” of the presentation, Grimont says. Your first slide should summarize the entire presentation, letting your audience know what you will be talking about.

The tittle of each slide that follows should sequentially build your story in a compelling way. “Each title must also be powerful and catchy,” Grimont says, “answering questions like ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ Powerful titles keep your audience engaged.”

4. Reinforce your message
Find the common thread in your presentation and keep reinforcing it throughout your presentation, Grimont says. The common thread is derived from the core purpose of the presentation.

(For example, if your core purpose is to recruit new retirement-planning clients, your common thread might be making retirement dreams come true.)

“The supporting points on all your slides should be linked to the common thread, which is turn supports your title slide,” advises Grimont. “People are more likely to remember what they learned during the presentation.”

5. Learn the material
You must have a thorough understanding of the subject matter of your presentation. Rehearse it several times. “This way,” Grimont says, “you will be able to be yourself and present with confidence and sincerity.”

Your audience can usually sense if you are insincere or do not have a complete grasp of the subject.

“You must come across as an expert.”