At some point or other, you will probably need to make a presentation. A speaking engagement is a very effective way to spread the word about your product or service.
Presentations are also challenging, because you must combine content with a little “flair.” My next four posts will provide some tips to help you prepare and deliver an effective presentation.
Define your goal
Before you do anything, ask yourself – “What is the purpose of my presentation? Am I trying to inform? Motivate? Entertain?”
Then ask – “What do I want people to know at the end of my presentation? What do I want them to think? What do I want them to do?”
Write out the answers to those questions and structure your presentation around them.
Know your audience
A presentation has three important elements: you, the talk and the audience. The audience is the most important.
So who are they? What are their concerns? Interests? How much do they know about the subject?
And, most importantly, why should the audience listen to you? What’s in it for them?
The more you know about the audience, the more you’ll be able to meet their needs and wants.
Determine your core message, the main point you want your audience to “get.” Develop at least three different ways to say it. Also identify up to three sub-points.
State the main point and sub-points in your introduction. “My main point is that anyone can make a great presentation by paying close attention to three elements: content, delivery and visual aids.”
Notice how short and to the point this statement is. Your audience should not have to guess your main point. Make it clear from the outset.
Outline your presentation
In preparing your presentation, start at the ending by focusing on your goal (i.e., what you want the audience to know, think and do).
You don’t need to do a formal outline but do write out the basic structure. The adage, “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you’ve told them,” works well. Give people an overview of what you’re going to present, make the presentation and summarize.
Unless the event organizers require it, do not write out the presentation. Outline it and talk from the outline.
Have a good introduction
An effective introduction gets the audience’s attention and identifies the topic.
Stories or questions are often good ways to start. In general, avoid humor and especially jokes. They can backfire.
After the attention-getter, state your main message and sub-messages, and explain how the presentation will benefit the audience.
I will cover some additional preparation tips in my next post.