90% of the success of any presentation can be attributed to planning. As Mark Twain said, “It even takes three weeks to prepare a good ad lib speech.”
The problem with most presenters is they don’t spend enough time researching, getting to know the audience and going over and over the presentation until it becomes second nature.
I recommend to my presentation skills coaching clients that they spend about twenty hours in designing, developing and practicing every presentation.
Below are the twelve steps you should follow in developing your presentation.
Who is my audience?
This is the first thing you must know before delivering any presentation. Demographics such as age, sex, lifestyle, work culture, education level, experience, knowledge, culture and background all play an important role in formatting your presentation. For example in a presentation I delivered to the Outdoor Recreation Association, I found out the average age of the attendees was 26 with about 70% being male. Upon further research I found out that if a presenter came in a suit and tie, he would be immediately discounted. By knowing this I dressed appropriately to the audience and did not allow dress to be a barrier in getting my message across.
What is the objective of my presentation?
What is the direction or goal of your presentation? Furthermore, when the presentation is over what do you want the audience to remember, understand, believe or what actions do you want them to take. A good way to determine what you want to get across is to remember the acronym WIFM. This means, what’s in it for me? The closer you can get to answering this question and giving them what they want, the more impact you will make and the higher your ratings will become.
How will I close the presentation?
This is the third step to follow. By knowing how you want to close the presentation it helps you to set up the beginning.
How will I open the presentation?
The opening sets up the bowling pins that the presentation and the close will explain by “knocking down” each pin.
How will I organize the body?
To make sure people understand the message you want to get across, tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. In other words, people need to hear what you are saying over and over in different ways to make sure they get it. Our suggestion is that you deliver a few key points and then you have stories, examples, anecdotes, questions or exercises for each. When developing our presentations we write out point 1—-story, example, etc —-Point 2—-story, example, etc. and on and on.
How do I plan what to say?
I suggest you use a ‘mind map.’ A mind map consists of writing out what you want to speak about and then brainstorming or letting your mind flow with things that might be relevant to your main subject. For example, if you wanted to do a presentation on birds, I recommend that you or other associates who may help you brainstorm take a piece of paper and in the middle of the paper you spell out the word ‘birds.” Make a square around the word birds and then draw lines with words that relate to birds. You or your associates may come up with words such as fly, beauty, noise, songs, doves, robins, eagles, nests, freedom, eggs, woodpeckers, chimney, cute, baby birds, etc. After about 15 minutes you will have numerous topics to talk about when talking about birds. Then take 3 or 4 topics and develop your story. For example, “There are thousands of types of birds, one type the robin is ……”
Where do I get material?
You should carry around an index card with you everywhere you go. When you see something that is funny, sad, inspiring, thought provoking or has an impact on you, write it down. A great place to get stories, examples and anecdotes is by looking at your family and friends. Also, make sure to write down anything that affects you. Many speakers try to figure out how they would use something and if something doesn’t immediately come to mind they don’t write it down. We find that sooner or later your insights can be used. I also suggest that you go to www.google.com and sign up for google alerts. If you put in a topic, you will receive daily articles, and messages about the topic you are interested in. For example, we have ‘Presentation Skill’ listed and we receive information in our mailbox daily about the subject.
How will I get their attention?
You must get their attention immediately at the start of your presentation. Starting with a question, story, humor, or relevant fact in an enthusiastic way starts and keeps the momentum going.
How will I keep interest?
We recommend every 3-5 minutes in your presentation you include a story, anecdote, question, exercise or discussion to keep people interested. We also recommend humor relevant to your presentation (not jokes) as much as possible as people remember humor 6 times longer than they do anything else.
What questions will I ask?
You can ask rhetorical questions that usually give a yes answer such as, “Would everyone be happy if you won a million dollars?” to questions to get attention such as, “Did you know that 80% of businesses that start today will be out of business within 5 years?”—pause— Today, I want to give you three ways to stay in business.” The purpose of questions is to get involvement, stimulate thinking and/or get a conversation going.
What questions will they ask?
By doing your homework prior to the meeting, you will have a good idea of what questions will come up. Also, depending on the situation, you might want to allow for questions while you are talking vs. having a separate question and answer period. If questions come up that are off track, let the participant know that you will meet with them after the session and would be happy to answer it.
What visual aids if any will I use?
The most important part of the presentation is you. Too many people rely too much on visuals and not enough on the quality of their verbal presentation. The question to ask yourself in determining what if any visual to use is, “Will the visual enhance of distract the participants from the message I want to get across.”