Preparing a presentation doesn’t have to be the intimidating and overwhelming experience that many people fear it will be. In fact, with the right planning, it’s a simple and straightforward process that can help you to deliver great results. When you’re approaching a presentation, break this down into three key stages – research, content and delivery – and you’ll find it much easier to ensure that you’re confident and ready when the time comes.
Stage 1: Research
At this point it’s all about getting some insight into why the presentation is necessary and who it’s for. So, you’ll need to look at details such as:
- Who are you going to be presenting to and what are their expectations, values and interests?
- What are you going to be speaking about – choose an angle that is of interest to you.
- What are you hoping to achieve with the presentation, what do you want the audience to learn or take away with them?
Stage 2: Content
Start by preparing the body content of the presentation, as this will give you an idea of how much there is to talk about and the level of detail that you want to cover. Define the ideas that you want to present during the content stage and then look for ways in which to support them. You might want to find relevant quotes, as well as data and statistics. Many people rely on their own personal experiences to make content relevant during a presentation and this can be a powerful tool.
It’s also important to ensure that you’ve prepared an introduction and a conclusion in advance. This is often where people struggle with presentations but these are some of the most important moments, as they will create your first and last impressions. The introduction should make an impact, whether that’s with striking visuals, a key quote, a personal story or humour. The conclusion is your opportunity to reinforce the main messages of the presentation so that what you’ve said will be retained.
Stage 3: Delivery
There are three main options when it comes to delivery: speak from memory, use notes or speak from text.
- Although speaking from memory gives you the freedom to move around and interact without notes or text this kind of delivery can sometimes sound rehearsed if you’re just trying to remember what comes next. It may still be necessary to have notes on hand to jog your memory if you lose your train of thought.
- Using notes may mean cards or paper, or the technology of a presentation tool. This is often the easiest approach, as it will enable you to speak knowledgably while still maintaining some eye contact and interaction.
- If you’re very nervous you may be tempted to speak from text i.e. writing out the entire presentation word for word and then reading it. This often results in a less engaging delivery, especially when it comes to audience engagement.
These are the key stages that are involved in planning a successful presentation.
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