How To Create the Perfect Presentation

How to create the perfect presentation.  Now there’s a statement.  Is there really a perfect presentation? By building on the principles in this article you will be sure to create something worth giving.

Start With your Objective.  Start with Why

Before anything is written make sure you know The Why?

Why are you doing this?  What is expected of you? What Is Your Objective?

Your objective is the most important thing to remember when starting to work on your presentation.  If you don’t really know what the end goal is, what your boss expects from you or what you want people to do, think or buy as a result of your presentation, you can not begin to prepare.  You need to begin with the objective in mind.

If you are boxing in a ring and you just swing your arms and fists about, do you think you will be victorious?  You’ll waste a lot of time and energy and accomplish not very much.  Whereas if you have a target in sight and keep striking at the target will you be victorious?  Far more likely, and you’ll do so far more efficiently.

Keep the objective clear in mind.

So now you have your Goal/Objective in mind you can set about doing your research.

Now the How.

How do I achieve my objective?  What information will I need to accomplish my goal?

Do Thorough Research

When you start your research think about the questions just posed..

How do I achieve my objective?  What information will I need to accomplish it?

One common fear for speakers is they won’t remember what they are supposed to say, or they will say something wrong.  Well these are reasonable fears, however, if you do plenty of research and concentrated thinking about your subject and how it relates to your objective then you greatly reduce the risks of you doing so.

So, compile all the information you can find on the subject (within reason, Time will dictate quite how much you are able to collate.)  Gather enough information that you have a clear and rounded out understanding of what you are to speak about.

Can you answer the following questions? :-

  • Do I now know the subject well enough to be able to explain it to someone clearly?

  • Why is this information of interest to the audience I will face?

  • Of what benefit is this information to anyone?

  • Why am I talking about this subject?

  • What do I love about the subject?

  • What is it that interests me about it?

When you have answers to these questions you will be more likely to remember what you need to.  You will also be in a position to talk more passionately about it.  You are also then in a position where you own your subject.  This gives you confidence, and, will make your audience have confidence in you as someone who is an authority on their topic.

If your audience see you are passionate about your subject, they are more likely to be also.  If they sense that you are interested in them too, this will go a long way with your audience.  There is a saying which goes:

‘people don’t care how much you know, but they will always know how much you care’

So, by thinking about how to benefit the listener and making it relevant to them, by helping them to see personal benefit you will appeal to them.  Having this in mind at the outset will help in accomplishing your end goal.

Choosing what Information to use

Refine your Research.  Keep only the necessary.

Once you have a collection of really useful and interesting information, you need to think about Relevance!  Relevance is a regularly used word is business, so frequently in fact that it may be easy to be complacent of its importance.  You may have a great and really interesting excerpt from an article that was amongst your piles of research, but if it does not help toward your end goal then perhaps keep it for another occasion where it will be more fitting.  The last thing you want to happen is for your audience to remember that really interesting story you told, but completely miss the point of the presentation.  If the audience do not understand and retain your message, you’ve wasted your time.

Have a maximum of 3 main points.

Once you have your objective in mind, and have separated the wheat from the chaff try to subcategorise your information into main points that will lead to accomplishment.  Without being rude to our race, we humans don’t remember an awful lot all in one hit.  The majority of us can only take in a few main points at a time, so making sure the outline has no more than 3 main points will make it manageable for the audience to take in and remember.

How will they remember the main points?

The key thing here is construction and order.  Some key questions to think about:

  • What is the relation between the main points of the presentation?

  • What is their relation to the objective of the presentation?

  • What is the best way to link them together so that the information follows a logical memorable path?

  • Is there a story that can link the points together?

  • Could an interesting illustration help the audience to visualise the relevance of the main points and help them to remember better?

  • Could your story or illustration thread through the whole presentation to tie it together?

Once you have your objective in mind, you grasp fully your subject and have arranged your main points and refined your material you are ready to start writing your presentation.

How to write a presentation.

Save time when writing your presentation.

Many people write the word for word manuscript first and then if they feel comfortable they may whittle it down and down as they get closer to the time of the presentation, if indeed they whittle at all!  This may be like a little comfort blanket/safety net for them.  The reasoning may be, ‘if I have all the notes there, I won’t forget anything!!’  In truth though, it’s just as easy to skip a paragraph or so in those situations as it would be to miss something out without all the notes.

Keeping all your notes ‘just in case’ may seem like the right thing for reassurance or confidence purposes, in truth it may do the opposite.

It may adversely affect your delivery and it will undermine your confidence in your own ability.  How so?

Adversely affect your delivery

You will be more inclined to be tied to your notes, making your presentation unnatural, and a little stayed.  This will hamper your ability to really connect with your audience and have meaningful audience contact.  It may even be cause for a little awkwardness if/when you lose your place, trying to catch the exact phrase where you left off.

‘there are many great speakers, but few good readers’! 

I heard this quote recently, at first I mused over that statement, wondering if it really rang true.  Most people can articulate themselves quite well, and learn how to deal with their nerves whilst on stage so that eventually they become relaxed, even if they do so with a little training to begin with.  When they reach this point they will be good speakers because they are ‘authentic’ or themselves.  Whereas, it takes real skill, to do the same thing whilst reading.  It is very difficult to read with appropriate feeling, timing and emphasis with an extemporaneous feel whilst at the same time engaging the audience and maintaining a connection with them.

Limiting your notes from the start will increase your speaking ability and improve your delivery as it will be the thoughts and ideas that are committed to your memory as opposed to exact wording.  This will make it sound more conversational and extemporaneous.

So how do you start if you do not write it all out?

Start with the main points on a page.  Maybe a page per point if space dictates.

From the main point write a few sub-points that make up that portion of the talk.  It may be in the from of a sentence, a few words or a picture.  These will then be your memory aides.  If you are using a PowerPoint presentation then these may be the theme of each slide. It is vital to remember though that if it is on screen as a PowerPoint slide then it is just a heading or a small note, and you do not read from it, but use it as a basis for what you are saying for the next few minutes.  The less slides with text the better.

If this seems too difficult just think… When you finish work and go home and you get into a conversation about your work, do you have notes? You could probably have a lengthy conversation about what you have done, what project you are working on or your big idea that you want to put forward in the presentation.  Your presentation is essentially the same conversation but in front of work colleagues or business contacts.  Too many notes will affect your delivery.

Undermining your confidence in your own ability

If you have your presentation written out in full, when you practice, you will use it, maybe memorising a portion of it, or even all of it. This makes you reliant on that piece of writing. (writing not speaking)  Take the writing away and you loose your confidence as a speaker.  But if you practice with brief notes, or an outline you practice your speaking ability, rather than your memory or reading ability.  As you practice this way, you become more reliant on your speaking, and not your writing.  This results in you rapidly improving in and becoming more confident in your speaking ability.

Practice each section individually aloud to make sure it sounds out logically.  How you would say something aloud is often different to how you would write it, so practicing aloud helps you to hear whether it sounds right in spoken form.   You will automatically rethink as you go and find ways to articulate your ideas in a better way.  When you do this you commit ideas to mind rather than exact wording.  This will mean that when you practice your talk it may be slightly different each time, but it will come out more naturally.

Once you have practiced the main points individually, and are happy with how they sound, then do the same again, but this time in one hit, all together.  By doing this you will see if your main points link naturally.

By the time you have done these steps to prepare for your presentation, you have given it every chance to succeed.  You have prepared your mind effectively for the presentation.

The time you have saved in writing the talk out word for word has been better used in practising how to articulate your ideas well.  This will have a massive impact on how well you deliver the presentation on the day.

The recipe for a great presentation is basic.  Make time.  Find your objective and keep it in mind.  Research and compile what you need to know to accomplish your objective.  Refine your research to Highlight the main points that will support it.  Write and practice as a speaker not a reader.

If you would like help with your next presentation just click here

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