Getting to the point during a business presentation takes some discipline, since we're fond of padding examples with details which seem important to us. On the other hand, we cannot treat every subject only in outline.

Here are my tips for getting your message across effectively and knowing when to say more.

When you're presenting to customers, you can't say everything there is to be said on the topic. You can't even say everything you know. There wouldn't be time and many of the details will be unnecessary to the audience's understanding of your topic. This risks confusing them instead of informing or persuading. Part of the work in getting to the point is deciding which details to leave out

How to make an impact

Know your audience. If you're dealing with a long-time client, you should already know. If it's a new client, you'll have to learn. However, if you're addressing a large group the means might not seem obvious. Get to the venue as early as possible and mingle with the meeters-and-greeters. Ask about attendees and what they do. Chat up those who arrive early. Look for those whom you already know. You can get information (or confirmation) from them regarding what they're expecting to get out of your presentation.

Use the active voice. It's more straightforward. A classic trick people use to avoid taking responsibility is to use the passive voice. You'll hear "Mistakes were made" rather than "I was wrong". But when you need action you must use active language. If you say "This should be done" there's a question about the doer.  "You need to do this" is unambiguous.

Use a metaphor. The role of metaphor is to explain the abstract in terms of the concrete and the new in terms of the familiar. l once attended a talk on the spread of disease, the rapid evolution of germs and how they work. My question was why some germs are devastating but harder to catch while others are mild but easier to catch. The speaker was a biologist, I'm not. When she said "Nature is a ruthless economist" it made the point clear to me very quickly. Germs are tiny and have limited energy and so must evolve and develop one capacity or another in order to reproduce. Since I was working in finance, the metaphor of nature being an economist seeking to make efficient decisions made sense to me. 

Most importantly...

Know what message you want to get across so you can cut extraneous detail.

Consider how much detail is necessary for people to understand your message.

When I worked in finance, we developed an enhanced system for reporting inventories of government bonds. At the first meeting with our IT colleagues, their lead person gave us a presentation on a system for reporting inventories of shares, on which they planned to base our system. For fifteen minutes he spoke about the binary code of the existing system as if we understood the relevance of a CPU register or could even distinguish between a CPU and an ALU. None of could, of course, although we didn't want to admit it. These details seemed important to an IT professional who was designing a system. However, what was important to us was not the code behind the system, but how we could use it.

The question is: when does a detail cease to be extraneous?

Answer: when an audience member asks for more

Of course, the opening of a presentation will have an outline so that the audience knows where you're heading. Even in the body of the talk leaving out extraneous detail is important for clarity. That's a judgement call for the presenter. Ask yourself: is this fact necessary for understanding what follows?

But when someone asks you a question, the question as it's put to you should indicate which details are necessary for your answer. This allows you to tailor your response whilst achieving maximum impact from what you say. Knowing your audience means anticipating some lines of questioning.

Going back to the Finance/IT example above what happened at the second meeting?

We tried again, and instead of IT presenting to us on the system, we presented to them on what we needed. We were asked a number of insightful and detailed questions about the life-cycle of a trade; about the prioritization of trade types; even about how information should be arranged on the screen to allow the user to click most quickly. Because their questions were very focused and specific it meant we could reciprocate with specific information. This helped them achieve an understanding of how to design a system that would meet our practical needs. 

Imagine you are a producer selling food products to retailers. During your presentation you may want to emphasise your ethically sourced ingredients. Your retailer audience should already know broadly what that means, so you won't need to go into depth. If anyone wants clarification or confirmation you'll get asked "Please can you expand on that point?"

This question doesn't indicate which details your customer wants to hear but you can clarify it. Do you mean ‘How do we guarantee the ingredients meet certain standards?' or ‘How do we pick our suppliers'? 

If the answer is the latter...

"We get certification from Fair Trade International that the producers of ingredients farmed in the developing world received fair payment. We get certification from the Soil Association that the ingredients are organically grown and processed. We get certification from the Marine Stewardship Council that all our fish, like smoked salmon, is 'line caught'."

In the main body of your talk you probably couldn't go into detail on every product you sell but since someone asked about ethical sourcing you had the details to back up your point. If further details are sought about who the producers are and how long they've been certified you should have access to that information. But you don't need to supply it unless that further question is asked.

In summary, the skill set you need for the presentation that gets to the point and allows for flexibility to expand: 

1. Knowing your material

2. Knowing your audiences 

3. Paying attention to what's being asked in questions and clarifying when necessary 

4. Deciding which details are appropriate.

By keeping it clear and to the point, you have the room to expand on points if and when you are asked - rather than swamping your presentation with unnecessary detail.