Types of presentation

A review of the practice-oriented literature provides a basis for classifying presentations into categories based on self-descriptions (see the approach adopted by Degenhardt and Mackert 2007). Anthony and Boyd (2014: 7-9) offer a compact overview - albeit merely in list form - under the heading of “Understanding the Different Types of Business Presentations”. Applying tried and tested criteria used for the systematisation of communication in general, and adding contributions from other sources, their types can be classified as follows.

In terms of formality, presentations range from “formal” to “informal”, in those of speaker intention from “informational” - the more or less neutral communication of information - through “motivational” to “persuasive”, that is, the explicitly intended attempt to influence (on sub-categories, see Garten 2004: 19). Somewhat outside this second range are “entertaining” presentations; these “are designed to keep the audience amused. They include after-dinner speeches, and they have little purpose beyond entertainment” (Khan-Panni 2012: 44). In a wider context they may, however, also serve persuasive goals, and the - well-judged - use of entertaining elements is indeed an integral element of many successful presentations. As regards their subjects or domains, presentations are classified as “technical”, “financial/operational”, “commercial”, etc. Projects tend to be divided up into “conceptual”, “planning” and “project updates” stages - with the “solution” emerging at the end. Finally, many business presentations claim to offer “problem solving”. As Anthony and Boyd observe: “When you sell a product or service, what you really sell is a solution to a problem the audience, customer, or client is experiencing” (2014: 9).

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