So, you have been asked to prepare a presentation… Plan before you panic.
Maybe in the past, on being asked to prepare a presentation, you have grabbed a pen and start to scribble. The result? Predictable content which has been heard before.
Instead, start with: FOCUS
Too many presentations waffle. You are communicating for a reason – so focus on that reason and make sure that everything you say is pointed. What is the overall purpose? Is it to inform, to entertain, to persuade, …? Your purpose will determine how you structure and prepare your presentation.
To help you focus, ask yourself the following questions:-
1. What point am I trying to make?
Capture the point in the title of the presentation – not “Smartphones” but “How Smartphones will make you more efficient”
2. Who is my audience?
The kind of people you are talking to will inform the appropriate style for your presentation. What do my listeners know already? Are they likely to agree? Disagree? Be open-minded? Be nervous? Decide, and then reflect that decision in the tone of your presentation.
3. What is the common ground between the audience and me?
If you can find points that you agree on and state these at the beginning, you have caught their attention – interest will be raised because you are dealing with issues affecting them. This will also give you a persuasive point that you can go back to if in trouble. At this stage you will probably be assuming, based on what you know about the audience. A good technique is to ask questions at the beginning of your talk, so you can tune in to this particular audience, plan for that interaction in preparing your presentation.
4. What would the audience like to get from the talk?
Are we aligned or do we have different objectives? How can I obtain agreement on the purpose of the presentation, at the beginning? How can I ensure that the audience get what they need or want from the presentation? How much can I surprise them?
5. What do I want them to do?
If you want them to act in a certain way or change their current opinion, tell them at the start, so that they can judge everything you say against the changes they know you want them to make. Otherwise, your call to action will come as a surprise and the natural inclination to preserve the status quo will kick in and they will resist the change.
6. Why should they change?
Explain what’s in it for them, tap into those motives you discovered or confirmed at the beginning and show them how your recommendation meets their needs and will benefit them. If you can give them a good story on how this has helped someone else, that is the kind of proof your audience is looking for to help them decide.
The answers to these questions will give you a firm focus to help you prepare your presentation before you have even thought about researching the topic. It will help determine relevant content and style. Now you are ready to start writing your outline.
More on how to prepare your presentation to follow, if you would like to discuss this further or have a question we can answer, please contact Amanda.
A great way to build your speaking skills and confidence is to join your nearest Toastmasters club. Find your nearest club here.