How to plan an effective presentation in 6 easy steps

Planning your presentation

If You Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail! The success or failure of a presentation is determined long before you walk into the venue and engage the audience.

Let’s consider how you can plan your presentation effectively, making it as relevant, concise and targeted for your audience as possible.

Planning successful presentations
Planning successful presentations

If you struggle with planning, it’s really all about the 6 essential planning questions: why, who, what, where, when and how? If you can answer these in relation to your presentation, you have a plan.


Let’s start here. Why are you delivering the presentation – what’s your goal or objective? What are you trying to achieve? You need to know this. Presentations usually have one of two purposes – they’re either informative or persuasive. You’re telling or you’re selling. In fact, you’re always selling. You’re selling you. And if the audience buy you, they’ll buy what you’re saying!

If you’re telling, the aim could be to inform, update, advise, explain, clarify, teach, thank or congratulate the audience members. If you’re selling, the goal is to influence and persuade, to gain their willing buy-in and cooperation for whatever you are selling. This might be a product or service, or a new system or process, or way of thinking. Make sure you are clear regarding the purpose of your presentation.


It’s time to KYA – know your audience! Another vital part of the planning process. What would be useful to know about them?

  • How many people will you be presenting to? Useful to know for room logistics and will help your nerves.
  • Who are they? Colleagues, customers or suppliers? Levels of knowledge regarding the topic will vary greatly. Don’t tell them what they already know, or don’t need to know.
  • Consider age and status within the company – will you use a formal or more informal delivery style?
  • Have you presented to this audience before, and how did it go? Was it well received? Did you listen to the feedback and act on it?
Deliver an effective presentation
Delivering effective presentations


This question is all about the content of your presentation. What will you cover? You want the content to be relevant and targeted to your audience, so it’s time to use the following equation: why + who = what!

You know why you are presenting and to whom. This will help you to determine what to include. Some presenters focus too much on the ‘what’ question, without considering ‘why’ and ‘who’. They brainstorm potential content and end up with far too much information. Then you have the difficult decision of what to leave out.


This is about venue considerations. Do your homework – what can you find out about the room? Factors include the size, shape and layout, location, accessibility, resources available (projector, flip-chart?), lighting, heating and refreshments. Find out what you can prior to presenting – it’s one less thing to worry about.

Learn successful presentation planning and delivery skills in London


When are you presenting? The morning is better, because after lunch the audience could be experiencing a post-lunch slump. Also, in your introduction, let them know about timings and breaks.


Finally, think about how you’re going to deliver the presentation. This includes your delivery style, formal or informal, what you’re going to wear, and any resources needed. These could include visual aids, slide clicker or laser pointer, handouts or a microphone.


Some people struggle with planning a presentation, but it really is worth doing in terms of the impact it can make. Can you answer the ‘why, who, what, where, when and how’ questions? Remember, proper planning and preparation prevents poor presentation performance!

How to get rid of Nerves during your Presentation

You are not alone!

It’s time to stand up in front of your clients, customers, business partners, project team or training delegates to convey everything you know to an audience. They will be hanging on your every word.

Maybe you are contemplating a job interview or have been persuaded to make a speech at a wedding reception to hundreds of guests.

So why are you shaking, scared, sweating, feeling ill, or even losing sleep?

Perhaps you fear making mistakes, forgetting what to say or losing your train of thought. Could it be the possibility of an aggressive audience ‘grilling’ you; ‘picking holes’ in your argument, not liking you, not laughing at your jokes or being unable to answer their probing questions?

Presentation skills training courses London

Don’t be afraid! It’s not just you.

Firstly, we all possess the fight or flight response which stems from the amygdala in our brain, detecting fear of things out of our control and our emotions, including anxiety.

Secondly, The Book of Lists reports the Top Ten Human Fears as:

  1. Speaking before a Group
  2. Heights
  3. Insects and bugs
  4. Financial problems
  5. Deep water
  6. Sickness
  7. Death
  8. Flying
  9. Loneliness
  10. Dogs

As Jay Leno quipped, “I guess we’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.”

Public speaking is also the number-one fear for Americans, with death at number five, and loneliness at seven, which could mean that most are less afraid of dying alone than making fools of themselves in front of others. Further facts and figures about public speaking show just how widespread this fear is.

So, what can you do about it?

In my experience as a seasoned trainer and teacher, the key to efficient, successful presenting is preparation. Unless I am fully knowledgeable about my topic, with associated notes and visuals and have made time to practise my delivery, I invariably suffer from nerves.

To improve your performance, prepare thoroughly;

  • Establish a clear purpose; what do you want your audience to Do, Decide or Know?
  • Research your topic; consolidate key facts and figures
  • Find out about your audience; their background, knowledge and experience
  • Anticipate 5-10 ‘killer’ questions that could arise; include responses in your presentation to reduce the prospect of being challenged by a hostile attendee.
  • Assemble notes and visuals
  • Give yourself time to set up in advance and check any technology on your stage
  • Consider techniques such as mindfulness and visualisation to relax and calm your nerves

Prevent nerves. STL London presentation training

Practise repeatedly

  • Rehearse your opening ‘Hook’ to capture attention from the outset and learn it off by heart. Rhetorical questions or shocking statements can make people sit up and take notice
  • Deliver with a strong voice, assertive tone and varied intonation; don’t forget to breathe
  • Display confident body language, posture and appropriate gestures
  • Share eye contact with the whole audience; smile occasionally
  • Finish strongly with a Clear, Relevant & Memorable message for the audience to take away.

Finally, remember that you are ‘on stage’ on merit and, for the duration of this presentation, you are the boss!