How To Create A Business Proposal Presentation

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By Tyra Delos Reyes

A winning business proposal presentation has two key parts: the presentation deck, and the delivery itself. 

In this article, I’ll be going through how to structure each part of the presentation deck, including some examples to give you a better idea on how to best write those sections.

After that, we’ll be going through some actionable tips from the world’s best-in-class presenters: TED talk speakers. 

Even though you won’t be addressing a hundred-person audience like they do, their best practices on oration and storytelling are transferable to any speaking opportunity, especially a business presentation. Let’s dive right in!

How to structure your business proposal presentation 

Introduce the agenda

While it’s important to be thorough, keep your agenda introduction brief and to the point.

Your goal is to pique interest and provide a roadmap, not to delve into details just yet. Explain why each section of the agenda is important and how it ties into the overall proposal. 

Provide a problem overview

This sets the stage for why your proposal matters and how it can bring value. A good problem overview section typically follows a similar flow:

  • State the problem clearly:  Use 1-3 clear, straightforward sentences to describe the problem. Use metrics and language your audience uses to describe their problems. Steer clear of unnecessary jargon. 
  • Relate to the audience: Show how it impacts their business, employees, or customers. Use empathetic language to connect with their experiences and concerns. 
  • Storytell with data and insights: Use data, case studies, industry trends, and reports to illustrate the problem’s impact. Your goal is to make the issue more tangible and urgent.
  • Discuss the impact: Highlight the broader implications of the problem. How does it affect the organization’s ecosystem when it’s left unaddressed? 

Why not start with an “About Us”?

In his Harvard Business Review webinar, keynote speaker Michael Brenner advises presenters NOT to start with the about us.

He says the about us section doesn’t really add anything valuable to the discussion, and that it’s best to proceed with what’s actually connecting for your audience–their problems. 

Discuss the proposed solution 

Your solution section is where the real storytelling starts. 

I personally enjoy using the FAB structure when writing my proposed solution. Short for Features, Benefits, and Advantages, the FAB model is a three-pronged sales framework for highlighting the value-add of a given solution.

Let’s say you’re proposing a new booking system for a hotel. Your proposed solution section following the FAB model might look something like this:

  • Feature: The booking system includes features like real-time availability updates, multi-language support, and an integrated payment gateway.
  • Advantage: Real-time updates prevent overbooking, multi-language support enhances user experience for international guests, and integrated payment processing provides a seamless booking experience.
  • Benefit: Increase your booking rates with an efficient, error-free system while providing a convenient, hassle-free booking experience for guests, leading to higher satisfaction and repeat business.

Why not just talk about the benefits? 

Take it from best-selling sales author, Jeffrey Gitomer: “I don’t want features, I want value. I don’t want benefits, I want value.”

It’s not benefits or features. Neither paint a complete enough story to truly convert your audience.

Think about it this way: your audience isn’t just evaluating the merit of your proposal based on what you can promise for them. 

They’re buying into a tangible, realistic solution. And in order to do that, they need the “what” AKA the features. How are you going to implement this solution? What about it contributes to the success of the project or initiative?

What else do I include in my solutions section? 

Again, your solutions section is all about demonstrating competence and value. To really strengthen your case, consider adding: 

  • Previous successful projects
  • Traction and metrics to demonstrate past success
  • Customer testimonials 
  • Highlights from previous projects
  • Awards, certificates, and other industry recognition

Illustrate the roadmap and implementation

After going through the problem and solution, help your audience visualize what the implementation looks like in practical terms. 

In his TED talk, data journalist David McCandless reminds us that “absolute figures” don’t give us the full information. 

Data visualization tools like flow maps help put images to numbers that may seem meaningless–and the same is true for business presentations.

Instead of describing the project flow with just words, it’s better to present project milestones and key deadlines using a timeline graph. 

What if I’m not sure about the timeline? 

Include a disclaimer that these dates are just estimates. Event planning proposals and construction bids often have disclaimers to cover unforeseen events and liabilities; add them at your discretion. 

Include budget and deliverables 

The budget and deliverables section is pretty straightforward. Make sure to include critical information such as: 

  • Budget breakdown 
  • Deliverable breakdown, including target submission/completion dates
  • Justification for the costs 

The cost justification is arguably the most “complicated” part of this section. 

Talking about return on investment (ROI) is one of the easiest ways to say, “Look, it’s going to be worth it.”

If you want a quantifiable cost justification, you can do it by answering the following questions: 

  • The payback period: how long will it take to get ROI? 
  • The internal rate of return (IRR): how does the upfront investment compare to future returns? What does that look like annually?
  • The net present value (NPV): how much is this investment worth throughout its lifetime, discounted to its value today? 

End with an actionable CTA

Your final slide should be a summary of your agenda. Quickly go over:

  • The problem statement and the proposed solution
  • The benefits of taking action 
  • The next steps they can take 

The “next steps to take” mainly depends on where they are in your sales pipeline.

If the lead seems interested enough to jump straight to purchase, it’s fine to conclude with a contract signing or jump straight to payment terms. 

If your prospect isn’t at the buying stage yet, you can end with something like:

  • “I’m going to touch base with you guys by [specific day] – is that good?”
  • “I’d like to go ahead and schedule a demo for you guys”
  • “If we sign on today, I can offer a [discount].”

Essentially, your goal with the closing remarks is to keep the momentum and interest alive. 

What other sections can I include in my business proposal presentation? 

That depends mostly on the type of presentation.  Consider adding the following sections for these different kinds of use cases:

Use case 1: Securing funding or an investment 

  • Market analysis: Provide an overview of market size, consumer demographics, growth trends, and a competitive analysis that highlights your unique positioning.
  • Traction and sales metrics: Share important sales numbers, growth stats, and proof that the market is really into what you’re offering.
  • Financial plan: Provide detailed financial projections including profit and loss, cash flow forecasts. You can also include a breakdown of how funds will be used.

Use case 2: Proposing a new project as a contractor

  • Competitor analysis: Point out what sets your business apart from the others, like how your prices stack up and the years of experience you bring to the table.
  • Qualifications and experience: Highlight your qualifications and past successes in similar projects to build confidence in your capability to deliver.

Use case 3: Forming partnerships

  • Roles and responsibilities: Outline the specific roles and responsibilities of each partner, ensuring clarity on contributions and expectations.
  • Benefit analysis: Explain how the partnership benefits everyone involved, emphasizing the perks and advantages that make it a valuable deal for all parties.

Tips on presenting a business presentation, according to TED talkers

Making your pitch deck is one thing–presenting it to an actual audience is a whole other beast. 

TED talk speakers are probably some of the best-in-class presenters in the world.

 Although these speakers come from various disciplines, they do share one enviable trait in common: they can engage, captivate, and inform an audience of thousands, whether they’re talking about the psychology of body language or challenging the belief most people have about their ability to draw and be creative

So how do they hit the nail on the head, every single time?

Learn to frame your story 

TED curator (aka Head of Ted) Chris Anderson says a good presentation is all about framing what you want to say. 
Ask yourself what is the number one thing that’s worth talking about.

In the context of business proposals, think about your main arguments. What’s so important about the problem statement? What’s so compelling about the solution?

Plan your delivery–consider writing a script

Now that you’ve got your story–how do you actually tell it? 

Anderson talks about the importance of keeping the intimacy between speaker and audience. 

As soon as you start reading the presentation, the audience usually stiffens up and becomes less connected to the presentation. 

He recommends exploring two methods for engaging delivery: 

  • Memorize your talk using a script, but not at the cost of sounding like a robot
  • Use bullet points on note cards 

The secret sauce, according to Anderson, is the tone: “Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.

Think about the visuals

One key mistake of presenters is by listing their discussion points as bullet points on a slide. Anderson says those are best reserved for your private note cards.

So what do you put instead? 

  • Consider adding graphs, charts, and other data visualization tools to clearly communicate complicated data sets 
  • Use tables to help your audience associate different items with specific dates, cost, and other variables 
  • Use stock photos of people to represent persona and target demographics 

Find the perfect mix of data and narrative

Nancy Duarte, author of “The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations”, says that “great presenters layer story and information like a cake”. 

When presenting research findings, Nancy recommends presenters to send the full written reports in advance and keep the presentation focused on key takeaways. 

Although financial audiences appreciate data, integrating a narrative with the numbers can make the facts more impactful and memorable. Use visuals to supplement your story. 

Finally, for VC pitches, she recommends keeping presentations to a crisp 10 minutes so the majority of the presentation can be focused on the Q&A.

Common mistakes when making a business proposal presentation 

Anderson shared ten ways that speakers can ruin their presentations, with the central theme being “don’t focus on yourself–focus on your audience”. 

Here’s our personal takeaway and how you can use them in the context of business proposal presentations: 

  1. Be concise. Don’t take too long explaining what your presentation is about 
  2. Watch your cadence. Speak at a reasonable pace and tone 
  3. No long intros. Don’t focus on who you are–people don’t need to know why you’re so important 
  4. Keep the presentation insightful. Don’t cram your slides with multiple bullet points and multiple fonts
  5. Ditch the jargon. Use language that makes the most sense for your audience 
  6. Stick to the problem. Skip the lengthy introduction about your organization and why you’re so great 
  7. Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your presentation to get a feel of the flow 
  8. Talk freely. Pay attention to tone so you don’t sound like you’re reciting from memory
  9. Engage your audience. Make eye contact to keep things engaging for your audience

What is a business proposal presentation? 

A business proposal presentation is a formal document or pitch designed to outline a specific business idea, project, or partnership to potential investors, clients, or stakeholders. 

The purpose of this presentation is to persuade the audience to support the proposal by providing detailed information about the business opportunity, including its objectives, benefits, market analysis, operational strategies, and financial projections.

Where can I find business proposal presentation examples?

While business proposals are harder to find, the original copies of iconic startup pitch decks are live online. 

On the other hand, there are tons of editable templates that you can choose from. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Project Proposal Presentation Samples 

Marketing Business Proposal Presentation Samples

Sales Business Proposal Presentation Samples

Startup Proposal Presentation Samples

Still feeling nervous about your business proposal presentation?

If you ever feel like you’re not the best person for the job, just remember that TED coaches their speakers as early as six months before the event. 

At the end of the day, a good presentation boils down to knowing your stuff. 

Lucky for you, it doesn’t take longer than a few hours of practice:

  • Know your presentation from start to finish
  • Include visuals to support your story
  • Frame your solutions in the context of features, advantages, and benefits 
  • Include quantifiable ROI for cost justification
  • Send complex reports, like financial data, in advance
  • Don’t use the slides as a bullet point tracker–use your notes for that instead