Planning a presentation – is just like planning any project

Every business presentation, and certainly presentations that need to motivate others to act, should be conducted as a project in every way.

 

Planning your presentation begins with defining the project itself (in this case the presentation’s objectives), building a work plan that includes preparing and assigning tasks, scheduling, determining critical paths, and allocating the required resources.

 

From the moment it becomes clear that a presentation will be necessary, it is worth organizing accordingly.

 

It is important to remember that the presentation begins long before PowerPoint (or any other tool) is opened.

 

What is the right way to get organized?

It is recommended to take an hour’s time off in a quiet place, perhaps with a co-worker, and ask the three preliminary questions.

 

What’s the point of this?

 

“Making an impression” is one possible goal (and even an important one). To get a customer to contact you, to get an approval/budget from the senior management, to win a tender, to find a potential partner, to implement an intra-organizational process – these are all goals.

 

Even if your goal seems obvious – once you think about it in depth, you will sometimes find out that your plan requires a few more steps.

 

For example, consider the case where we understand that we will not be able to close with the client immediately, at a conference or in a meetup. Then, the goal will be to make an impression and to close a meeting one-to-one.

 

In this case, there is no point in bringing a great deal of quantitative data, Excel, etc.

 

On the other hand, we will concentrate very much on the value that the potential customer will receive, we will bring more case stories, we will talk about satisfied customers, and we will only give financial assessments if necessary.

 

We’ll lure them to meet with us.

 

The same goes for raising funds from an investor. Is this an investor we’ve already met with or are we trying to meet with the investor for the first time?

 

The objectives in each case are different in the required type of action. In the first case, it’s to close with the investor – to come out with an investment agreement or at least with another meeting and a basic commitment. The action required here is immediate.

 

In the second case, the goal is to leave with a firm meeting or several nonbinding meetings. The action required here is in the near future.

 

Another example – in a board meeting a lot of managers are engaged in “reporting,” and only the last part of the meeting looks at opportunities for the future. When you change the goal from reporting to obtaining resources for future development – the whole focus changes. The perspective will focus on describing future plans, and reporting on what was becomes a platform for envisioning what should be.

 

Who’s the audience? What do they care about?

 

We don’t always get to choose the audience.

 

If we know we are presenting to someone specific, we will try to understand what interests them. Why are they attending the presentation, what do they want to know? What will cause them to perform the action that we have defined in our goal?

 

What language will we use: very professional, or more down-to-earth language? Is our audience fluent in the presentation language? Are we going to need an interpreter? Is the audience fluent in our topic?

 

What’s the cultural world of your audience? Are their cultural associations similar or different?

 

How long do we have?

 

A very important factor when you make a presentation is time. On the one hand, it is clear that the shorter the time, the fewer topics (yes, I refer to the issues and not just the number of slides) you will be able to discuss.
On the other hand, even when there is a lot of time, it is worth understanding that in many cases, the audience can only process a certain number of messages.

 

Now that we have the project figured out, we need to get to preparing the work plan.

 

Define what are the important messages and which messages are second priority.

 

When we connect our goals with the audience’s points of interest, we then understand our main message and can repeat it and reinforce it during the presentation.
When defining the messages, it is also very important to consider the data that we want to convey – or rather, what insights we would like to convey.

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What is the best structure of the presentation? How are we going to best achieve the goals we’ve defined?

 

Follow this plan to structure your presentation:

 

  • Start with the issues you want to talk about.

   1. You register them as a header. 
       These will become the “Section Slides.” For every section, you start building subtopics:

   2. the problems, challenges we face, the solutions, or the main ideas. These will become “Header & Content” slides.

 

   3. For each of the subtopics we will assign supportive data: examples, processes, or data that you want to convey. Each example or supportive data
       will be displayed on a slide.

 

 When this process is done – you will have a list with three types of slides:
a section slide, a few content slides per section, and a few supportive slides for each content slide:


What is the best structure of the presentation? How are we going to best achieve the goals we’ve defined?

 

Follow this plan to structure your presentation:

 

  1. Start with the issues you want to talk about. You register them as a header. These will become the “Section Slides.”
  2. For every section, you start building subtopics:
    the problems, challenges we face, the solutions, or the main ideas. These will become “Header & Content” slides.
  3. For each of the subtopics we will assign supportive data: examples, processes, or data that you want to convey. Each example or supportive data will be displayed on a slide.

 

 When this process is done – you will have a list with three types of slides:
a section slide, a few content slides per section, and a few supportive slides for each content slide:


Getting to the actual work:

 

Creating the content, fine-tuning the language, getting supportive data and building supportive infographics.

 

The last step is to work on the delivery:

 

Synchronization

Create synchronization between the presenter and the presentation. Insert animations and transitions.

 

Practice, revise, and practice some more.
One of the best ways is to practice in front of a friend who is not familiar with the material.


Finally – the project is completed!

When I work with my clients, I always treat their presentations as projects. I start with brainstorming sessions to get the answers to the 3 questions: goals, audience, and time. Accordingly, I build a work plan and schedule, and I flag myself with all the resources I need.

 

My main suggestion for those who are preparing a presentation alone is: start planning.