If your presentation has a clear, succinct message:-
- you’ll be able to remember it better,
- you’ll also be less nervous when you come to present it,
- and your audience will be able to understand it better.
The best way to create a clear, succinct and well designed presentation is to take a structured approach to planning and writing it. And this is one of the key steps to achieving excellent presentation skills.
Establish the purpose of the presentation
There are lots of different types of presentations.
You might be trying to sell something, you might be trying to persuade your audience about a certain way of thinking – to influence them. Or you might just be trying to inform them about something.
So the first thing you need to do is to work out the purpose of your presentation. What are you doing there. What do you want to achieve from your presentation.
So having got a good idea of your purpose, its important to write that down – so its clear in your mind. So that whatever you do you are able to refer back to the purpose, you know what you want to achieve out of the presentation.
Build an audience profile
The next thing you want to do is think about your audience.
This is something that is going to affect your content that you are going to put into the presentation. So its worth spending time trying to analyse your audience before you actually present.
Its useful to put together an audience profile – covering the type of people who will be at your presentation.
- Where are they coming from
- what level of expertise do they have
- Are there any decision makers in the audience
- What is their attitude towards the topic that you are presenting on
- Do they have any preconceived ideas or expectations about what you will be presenting on
- etc etc
So brainstorm as much as you can about about your audience. Because the more that you can understand about them beforehand the more that you’ll be able toadapt your material to make it relevant to them.
Establish the key message of your presentation
The next thing to think about is your key message. Every presentation should have one key message which everything else ultimately links to.
The key message should have a very strong benefit for the audience to listen to you. So one way of identifying it is to brainstorm the main benefits to the audience that come from your presentation.
Ask yourself what’s in it for them.
Once you’ve been able to answer this question – you should also have identified your key message. Once you’ve established what this is – write it down.
Develop and structure the content of your presentation
You now need to start developing the ideas for the presentation content. Putting that content into a strong clear structure is very important to help you stay on track and also to help the audience to follow the presentation clearly.
Think in terms of THREEs.
Split your middle section into three sections as well. In each section have 3 further points you want to make and expand on to reinforce things.
And ensure that as you create the content for your presentation you remember:-
- Your purpose – what you want to achieve from it
- The key message – what is in it for the audience
If you dont have a strong structure, you’ll find that’s when you start to wander off topic, your mind can go blank or you’ll head off at a tangent. And then you lose your audience!
Edit your presentation content
Once you’ve got a draft, its then important to edit that. You need to consider the type of language you’re using, to help you keep the audience’s interest.
Identify ways of grabbing their attention. Ways of actually helping the audience to listen to you. Dont use long winded sentences. Or words that may not be relevant to the audience, or that they might not even understand.
So edit the material and adapt the language that you are going to use.
Using mind-maps (like the one below – which summarises the main points on this page) is a great way to structure your ideas and enhance your presentation skills. Dont just power up PowerPoint and start writing the bullet points!
All these elements are going to help you planning the presentation.
You’re going to end up with a presentation that has a clear message, that’s relevant to the audience and is probably much easier for you to deliver.