Would you Like Help in Preparing Your Presentation?
- Do you sometimes feel you dont know where to start?
- Do you sometimes put off preparing until the last minute?
- Do you put off preparing as you're just too nervous to think about it?
- Would you like to have a more logical structure to your presentations?
Whether it's presenting to your manager, a team of colleagues, or pitching for new business the success of any presentation is dependent on structuring a clear message and delivering that message with confidence and conviction.
But how do you ensure that your presentation has a good structure with a message that is clear enough for your audience in the first place?
Rule Number 1 - Be clear on what you want to achieve
The first question you have to ask yourself is:-
What am I ultimately trying to achieve by giving this presentation?
Ever been put in that survival situation where your line manager asks you to deliver a presentation to his/her peers on your current project? But hopefully you want to do more than just survive - you also want to impress?
It might be that you want them to agree to continue funding the project for another 3 months, or that you would like more support from some of their direct reports.
Maybe it's a presentation to your team on some recent organisational changes or just bringing them up to speed with some specific business issues.
Whatever the topic, you really need to be clear on what you want to achieve from this opportunity at the highest level - ie know your primary goal - or key message.
Once you've got that in mind you can start to think about your audience.
Rule Number 2 - Know your audience
The more you know about your audience the better. You will then be able to design your presentation with them in mind and thus be in a much better position to achieve your overall goal.
Some questions to consider are:-
Who are they? ... How many will there be in the audience? ...
Do you know them well? ... What expectations are they likely to have? ...
What preconceptions are they likely to have? ...
Have they asked to attend? ... or have they been told to attend? ...
Will they be hostile? ... or will they be receptive?...
Will they want a detailed account? ... or a high level one? ...
Are they technically aware? ... etc ... etc ...
Now answer each of these questions in turn and then brainstorm more questions to ask yourself about the audience until you have a good mental picture of who you will be presenting to.
Rule Number 3 - Provide a clear structure for your message
Your presentation should have a
- Beginning ...
- Middle ...
Use the beginning to build rapport with your audience - let them know what's in it for them - so that they have a motivation to listen to you.
Make your ending strong - leave the audience with a final thought or call to action that will leave a lasting impression on them.
Use the "Power of Three"
Although the audience concentration may drop off a bit in the middle of the presentation, you can counteract this by keeping the structure clear and focused.
Try to limit yourself to three key sections in the main part of your presentation. Each section is like a mini presentation and should have a beginning, middle and end. In doing this you will keep 'lifting' the audience concentration and your presentation will be clear and easy to follow.
- Three is a magic number
- We tend to remember things better when grouped into threes
- And that's true for both presenter and audience!
Its not only limited to the politicians though. Advertisers use it all the time - by grouping benefits into three punchy words or phrases eg "Quality, Value Choice" is one well known catchphrase.
Our context is slightly different - in that we're splitting up the presentation into three sections. Then splitting each section into three subsections etc but we can also use these "power phrases" when we need to.
Now put it to the test
Like most things you have to take some action to make progress. It's all very well sitting here and reading this page - but if you dont try and apply what you've just read you are wasting your time.
So decide what you want to achieve from your presentation; try and understand your audience as much as possible; and finally design your presentation making use of the power of three.