As with all communication tasks, before actually preparing a presentation you must first determine:
· who is your audience? How will they feel about your topic?
· In one sentence, exactly what is your main idea or topic?
· what information and evidence will you be using to support your main
idea or topic, and how will it be structured? (this usually means preparing an overall outline or plan).
· how much time is allotted for your presentation?
STEP 2 - PREPARING THE INTRODUCTION
The introduction is critical; it lays the foundation for your entire presentation. You must always:
1. begin to connect with your audience, and to develop a rapport
2. get your audience's attention; demonstrate that your topic matters to
3. preview your main idea or topic
4. outline the structure of the presentation
To help you remember these four steps, think of RAMP (Rapport, Attention, Main message, and Plan). If you need more concrete examples of how to prepare an introduction, have a look at these practical tips for introductions.
STEP 3 - PREPARING THE BODY OF YOUR PRESENTATION
The body of your presentation is where you provide the actual information, details and evidence to support your main idea or topic. Since it has the most information to convey, it takes-up the majority of the time allotted for your presentation. Usually there will be several sections in the body, each corresponding to one of the main points in your outline. This is where you delve more deeply into your argument, providing clear evidence, relevant examples, pertinent anecdotes and (in the case of sales presentations) strong testimonials and references. For example, imagine that you were presenting an idea to a group of investors...
And remember, since there is no written record for your audience to consult, make sure that you periodically re-orient them during the body of your presentation. Ideally, you will do this both verbally (" now we'll move on to the second of my three main points...") and by using overheads. Always make it clear where you are within your presentation, and why a given section is relevant to your overall topic or idea. Otherwise your audience will lose interest, and your presentation will not succeed.
STEP 4 - PREPARING THE CONCLUSION
The conclusion is where you reinforce the main idea of your presentation in the minds of your audience. Briefly summarize the key elements of your argument or your key points, and - if appropriate - get your audience to act. Take advantage of the fact
that your audience's attention level increases dramatically as you near the end of
STEP 5 - PREPARING FOR QUESTIONS
Questions are an essential part of most presentations. They allow your audience to interact with you, or to clarify ideas, or simply to get more information. In general, ask your audience to hold their questions until the end of your presentation. This prevents you from constantly being interrupted, and provides you with the opportunity to thoroughly make your case before having to defend it. Often, your presentation will answer many of the questions people might otherwise have asked. If possible, prepare answers to likely questions before the presentation, and practice these. Anticipate tough questions, and prepare accordingly. In particular, be prepared to defend any assumptions that you have made. If, for example, you are assuming that 5,000 people will buy your new product in the first year it is produced, be sure that you can justify this claim if you are asked to provide evidence.
If it is appropriate, set a time limit for the question period, and stick to it. Before nishing the question period, remind people that it is almost over by saying something like "We're almost out-of-time. I can take one more quick question". If someone is too persistent with follow-up questions, tell them that you will provide them with more information after the question period is over. For additional background and information on answering questions, click here.
STEP 6 - PREPARING VISUAL AIDS
Visual aids (be they overheads, slides, hand-outs, models, audio or video clips) must always be simple, clear, and pertinent. Most often, they will be used to reinforce key points and sections within the presentation itself. Accordingly, they must be carefully planned and properly integrated.l Overheads are still quite commonly used, since they are effective (particularly when they are in colour), relatively inexpensive, reliable, and easy to produce (particularly when they are created using a computer-based presentation package like PowerPoint). You will all learn something about computer-based presentation management systems during this course; they greatly simplify the process of creating and presenting various kinds of visual aids. Regardless of how they are produced, some of your overheads should be text, or a mixture of text and graphics. These would include a visual title page (which gives introductory information like the title of your presentation and your name), and an overview page which previews your presentation's structure and main sections. The
latter can be used several times during the course of a longer presentation to re-orient you audience.
Other overheads will likely be charts, graphs, tables, photos, or other image-based material, Regardless of the specific type you are using, make sure that each illustrates or underscores a main point within your presentation.
Finally, do not crowd material onto visual aids; keep them free of visual clutter. (It should go without saying that your visuals must be free of any grammatical, typographic or spelling errors.)
Remember: don't just hit the "Chart" icon on Excel and print-out a graph of some numbers 15 minutes before you give your presentation. Instead, plan which points you want to emphasize, determine which type of overhead (or other type of visual aid) will best allow you to do this, and create the clear, dynamic and colourful visual support materials that will make your presentation really stand-out.