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.
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?
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.
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!