What’s the plan, Stan..? Planning your presentation

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 by Liz

First things first – why bother planning your presentation? A simple enough question but one that undoubtedly will pass through your mind as a deadline looms and you’re being put under pressure to “just get the slides sent“.

The answer is equally simple.  If you don’t know where you’re going and why, how can you be sure that you’ll get there?

Warning SignIf you just throw your presentation together without giving enough time and thought to the basics (Cut & Paste be damned!), rest assured it’ll look thrown together and unprofessional.

We’d also put money on the fact that you’re also going to miss the point of the presentation and not achieve want you need to achieve.  If you’re communicating a new message to your team, pitching for new business or updating existing clients, this is one hell of a risk to take!

So, in time honoured “power of 3” style, let’s cover off the basics of presentation planning:

1.  What’s the point?

Why are you presentating?  Do you want to…

  • Inform?
  • Educate?
  • Entertain?
  • Inspire?
  • Convince?

An entertaining presentation is constructed and delivered quite differently from an informative one. Once you get a firm grasp on the purpose of your presentation, you can focus on ensuring the structure, message and method of delivery (does it always have to be PowerPoint?) that will deliver the best results.

2.  What’s your topic?

What subject or aspects of a subject will you be covering? Before you start writing your presentation you must determine what exactly you will be talking about. On closer review, you may find that your topic is actually too large or complex for the time available. 

If this is the case, go back and review the topic  – it’s better to do this early in the process than when you’re half way through it!  For the sake of the audience’s sanity and your reputation, don’t go for broke and try to squeeze everything in – it won’t work.  Honest. 

3. Who’s the audience?

Every audience is different and in order to ensure success you should always consider what your potential audience will be like and what their expectations will be.  Failure to address the needs and understanding of an audience can be deadly to a speaker (we’ve all attended presentations where the presenter didn’t quite judge the audience correctly – painful stuff). 

If you don’t have personal knowledge of the audience, try to contact someone who can give you some idea as to the nature, attitudes and expectations of the people you’re presenting to.

To conclude…

Remember these are simply the fundamental building blocks to a strong presentation – these have to be in place to move onto the next stage of Presentation Optimisation.  More around this topic can be found here.

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