“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” – Alexander Graham Bell
In my previous Blog post, I spoke about the impact of the fear of public speaking. It can prevent people from speaking up at meetings or they can decline opportunities to deliver presentations. It can even cause their career to stall.
I outlined the 3 P’s to successful presentations- Prepare, Practice and Post-Presentation feedback. Of these, the most important is undoubtedly “Prepare”. This post takes a look at 7 areas that you can focus on in your preparation. I also have a series of short videos on YouTube that look at each area.
Establish who will be listening to your presentation. What level of information do they need? Is it a helicopter view, or do you need specific details? What information do they already have that you can build on? What level of resistance might they have and how can you address that?
What is the purpose of your presentation? Do you want to inform? Persuade? Motivate? Educate? Decide this at the very start. Write a single sentence stating the purpose clearly. “At the end of this presentation the audience will……..” All content for your presentation revolves around the purpose.
Your next step is to brainstorm all possible content that you could include. Write down all your ideas on post- it notes or on a mind map. When you have exhausted all possibilities, start to filter. Use the two criteria that you have established. Ask yourself two questions: Does it fit with your purpose? Does this audience need to hear it? If the answer to both questions is “Yes”, then keep it. If it’s “No”, then discard it.
Now that you have the main points that you could include, see how will you structure the main body of the presentation. How long will it be? Will you have one main point with three sub-sections, or will you use three points and sub-divide each? Is there a logical flow between your points? Have you supporting material for each point- a statistic, an example, a story?
You have the audience’s full attention at the opening, so use it to your advantage. Grab and hold their attention by using a technique such as telling a story; asking a question; or making an intriguing statement.
Finish on a strong note. If you are taking questions, consider taking them throughout the presentation, or as your second last item. This allows you to summarise your points at the end and conclude with your call to action.
If you’re using slides, leave their preparation until last so that you know the flow of your presentation. Do you need them? Are they adding to the audience’s understanding, or are they a crutch for you during your presentation? If it’s the latter, then leave them out! There are numerous articles online about how to prepare your slides and I will do a post about it in the future. For now, suffice to say that less is more!
If you would like to see how I could work with you or your team to improve your presentation skills, email me to arrange a no-obligation call. firstname.lastname@example.org