Presentation Skills: Preparing Your Presentation

Here are some steps to follow when preparing your presentation

Big presentation next week? Don’t know where to start? Start here, and make it a big success! Nothing brings the butterflies flying in faster than looking out at an audience and realizing that you didn’t spend the amount of time that you should have in your pre-presentation prep. Sweaty hands, nervous tic, and that sinking feeling that says this won’t end well. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it doesn’t take too much work if you follow these simple steps.

Know Your Subject Matter!

Presentation Skills: Preparing Your PresentationResearch is key if you’re not already a subject matter expert, and don’t skimp while you’re doing your prep work. If you try to present on a topic that you’re unfamiliar with, it’s harder to recover from stumbles and slips. If you’re presenting to a technical audience and you don’t know what you’re talking about – they’ll point it out quickly enough, often in a rather embarrassing manner!

You also need to know your audience, and alter your presentation style to match their listening style. If you’re presenting on a technical subject to a technical audience, they will expect a data-filled, steady style of presentation. If you’re presenting to your HR senior leadership about how well your last charity team building event went, they’ll expect to feel the emotion and have more of a connection during the presentation. If you don’t speak in the tone and with the content that your audience expects, you’ll lose their attention and that makes it hard as a presenter to keep going with confidence.

The Three Presentation Phases

The tried and true method of delivery: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.

The Opening

Tell them what you’re going to tell them.

The opening should be strong and make an immediate connection with the audience, and could be in the form of a question, an anecdote or the big reveal. The audience should be “shock and awed” sufficiently to hold their attention, then you get to the good stuff.

The Body

Tell them!

Hold back a little
The body of the presentation should be engaging and informative, but if you’re hoping to elicit questions then you may wish to hold back a nugget or two in reserve so you have some ammo if the audience pipes up.

Be Truthful
Acknowledging weaknesses or shortcomings of whatever you are presenting is also good, but prepare to defend them objectively and with adequate facts and figures. This goes back to knowing your subject. When Q&A time comes around, it will become apparent quickly if you’re heavy on fluff and light on facts.

Liven It Up
If you have a dull topic, you can choose to liven it up a bit with lighthearted comments and jokes, but again, know your audience. Be sensitive around the types of jokes that you use, and ensure that you

The Closing

Tell them what you told them.

The closing might be last, but is certainly not the least. You need to ensure that you leave your audience some data points that they will remember. You may have already gone through this data in the body of your presentation, but it’s more likely to stick if you repeat it as you close. Don’t overdo the closing – just the key points that you want everyone to walk away with.

Practice, Practice, Practice

These points will help get you started preparing your presentation, and we all know the 7 P’s – Prior Proper Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance (a slightly PC twist on the old British Army saying). Don’t let poor preparation add to your stress of presenting, spend the time to get your ducks in a row, practice, practice, practice, and knock it out of the park!

Trust The Experts

Keep in mind that the most effective way of getting your presentation skills on the fast track is to engage the services of a training company who specializes in presentation skills training and developing presentation skills. The experts do this for a living, and they’re very, very good at helping you develop your presentation skills with a closed loop feedback model. They will not only tell you what you’re doing wrong, but more importantly – what you’re doing right. This feedback from an expert can give you that confidence boost you need to go into your next presentation with a smile on your face and a little extra spring in your step.