The first thing to give some thought to is the topic (if you have one). The time limit you have been given to present in and the props or tools you are to use. I would then mull it over for at least twenty-four hours and make notes of anything that comes to mind. That will give you the ideas for your outline.
Less is definitely more when doing a presentation. It is better to articulate a few key points and leave your audience fully understanding the message you gave them than it is to blind them with facts and figures, leaving them overwhelmed and generally confused by the time you have finished. We have all heard of and experienced what I call ‘death by PowerPoint’!
If you have been asked to compile your presentation electronically then one slide per three or four minutes of time, plus a title and contact slide, is going to be plenty. Keep the content on the slides brief. Slides should look clean, tidy and well laid out. Looking at them should tell you something without any kind of verbal addition. However, what you talk about should be the subject of the slide and not the content. Almost everyone you present to can read the slide for themselves; therefore your words should be in-depth and the slide should be a bullet-pointed or pictorial summary. For example, if you are talking about European buying trends over the past five years, you could talk about motivations and factors, whilst your slide could show a graph. Whatever the subject make sure your facts are accurate. Research everything twice and cross reference different sources of expertise. If you find conflicting numbers or details you can say; The Times state a, b and c whilst Reuters list the figures as x, y and z.
When you have all the content prepared practice at least twice. Run through the entire thing from start to finish out loud. If you can find someone to listen great, if not do it anyway. This will give you an idea on timing, make you confident of the intonation and highlight any areas that would benefit from a little polish.
Decide what you want to do about handouts. Do you want to give them at the beginning (which means people will have flicked through them before you start), at the end as a reminder or do you want to email them after the event? If you are giving them out before it is a good idea to include some blank spaces for people to write notes. Find out how many people you are presenting to and make sure you have enough copies printed (always a good idea to have some extra just in case). If this is an interview presentation you might want to bind the sheets so they look more professional. If you are emailing make sure you have a current address for each attendee.
Are you going to use any props? Visual aids can add interest but they need to be relevant. If you are talking about a product you could pass some samples around the room but be prepared for people to whisper and take their eyes off the presentation whilst this is happening. If you are presenting on using something, like a piece of exercise equipment, a prop might make it easier for your audience to understand – think Dragon’s Den!
Don’t forget your personal presentation; how are you going to look? Clean, tidy and smart are definites but also think comfort with regards to shoes and perhaps wear layers so you can adjust how much you wear at the time dependant on the temperature of the room.
Arrive early, take some time to relax, breath, set a positive intention, breath again … and present.
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