Nothing affects the quality of a business presentation more than inadequate preparation. Most professionals can recall the best and worst presentations ever endured. All great presentations have a common theme: stellar preparedness on the part of the presenter. Unfortunately, nothing substitutes for the hard work and rehearsal that a memorable presentation will require. Difficult presentations can be mastered when the presenter starts early and completes the tasks in this list.
1. Know the Audience
A group of executives will require different information than a team of peers. Light-hearted presentations are not appropriate for customer groups. A mixed group of professionals with varying backgrounds will present the greatest challenge and broadest opportunity for “hitting the homerun.” Wise presenters will glean sufficient information from the meeting planner to know who will be present in the audience.
2. Create a Draft
A pile of index cards is helpful when determining the basic structure of the presentation. Technical presentations have few variations since the steps must be completed in order. Standard topics can be rejuvenated through creative approaches that have not been attempted in prior settings. A dry topic will become interesting with an informative and creative approach. The draft should contain few details since most of the research will be driven by the outline created in this step. The order of the presentation will change, so each topic should be placed on an individual card.
3. Develop Illustrations
Slides that contain lists of boring statements will put the audience to sleep. One slide with a meaningful illustration will encourage audience members to remember the points the speaker makes. An illustration will encompass many thoughts and ideas into a pictorial image that is interesting. For ideas, Google the word “illustration” in the images on the Internet.
4. Evaluate Equipment
A presentation at a different location can be derailed if the right equipment is not available. All laptops, projectors and screens must be in working order. A sound check is essential for large rooms where a microphone and speakers are required. Multiple checks of the equipment will prevent loss of sleep the night before the presentation.
5. Read supporting Material
A mind full of interesting material that supports the topic to be presented will provide a broader basis for the presentation. Interesting facts can be supported by real stories about other companies and individuals. Not all facts gleaned from research will be in the formal presentation, but the presenter will be more comfortable after reading the additional material.
6. Prepare a Script
Few people can “wing it” when delivering a formal presentation. The drafted outline should serve as the basis for a complete script of the presentation. A welcome and conclusion are essential to alert the audience to the actual beginning and end of the formal presentation.
- Start with an interesting story that will lead into the first point.
- Modify the jargon for the audience. Executives, team members and customers all understand a different set of words to convey the same ideas.
- Create fewer slides with more pictures on each slide. Automation and sound must be kept to a minimum.
- The script should match the delivery style and personality of the presenter. A person with a reputation for great humor can use more jokes and audience interaction than someone with a serious personality.
7. Practice! – Practice! – Practice!
Each time the presentation is practiced, more notes will be made. Rehearsals must cover the entire presentation so the last few minutes are just as familiar, and well polished, as the beginning moments. Break the presentation into sections and start in the middle where interruptions are anticipated. Identify the parts that can be dropped from the presentation if time runs out.
8. Time the Final Presentation
The actual presentation will take approximately 50 percent longer than the presenter anticipates. Hard and fast start and stop times must be considered when preparing the length of the presentation. Too much material is acceptable for some audiences, but executives have little patience for too many details. For an allotted hour, plan 40 minutes of presentation. This approach allows for questions and equipment glitches.
9. Create Readable Notes
Few people deliver the final presentation from the full script. Individual index cards provide quick memory triggers for the extremely prepared person. Full-size sheets of paper with different colors help other presenters to stay on track. Each presenter will have preferences for the notes used in the actual presentation. Some individuals are so well prepared that they will speak directly from the slides. Nerves will affect the presenter’s memory, so some notes are important for most people.
10. Arrive Early
Experienced presenters know that “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” An early visit to the room will provide peace of mind for the nervous presenter. The temperature and lights in the room should be checked to prevent last minute surprises. Equipment must be reserved and ready prior to the presentation. If possible, reserve the room for the hour prior to the actual presentation. This prevents another group from running long in a meeting just prior to the presentation.
Everyone has different methods of boosting self-confidence and calming the nerves. Public speaking is the most dreaded activity for most people. Even people who enjoy public speaking will experience an elevated heart rate in anticipation of the event. A haircut or a new outfit might be important in the week leading up to the presentation. A good night of rest is essential to prevent yawns when people are asking questions. Experience is the best way to determine which methods are most effective in the hours and days leading up to the presentation.
About the Author
OnlineClock.net are the creators of popular and useful online timers that can be extremely helpful in timing and testing your business presentations. The next time you have an important presentation to prepare for, try using one of OnlineClock.net’s various web timers. Good luck for your next presentation!