No matter what kind of presentation you’re preparing for, any and EVERY PRESENTATION CONSISTS OF 10 STEPS, and two more.
Before diving in, let’s get this right from the start; a presentation isn’t necessarily a slideshow. A presentation is any address or content a presenter communicates to an audience. With that out of the way, let’s begin.
1. The goal and purpose
In other words, what do you want your audience to do with the information they got?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a 60 seconds message or a 6-hour seminar; whether the presentation is part of a marketing maneuver or just for the sake of sharing knowledge. There’s always a purpose, and the presenters’ responsibility is to clearly communicate what they expect from the audience once the presentation is over. Otherwise, they will often miss the point. I have witnessed many presenters skip this crucial stage, leaving their audiences bewildered.
2. The audience
Who are you speaking to? Where are they from? Why are they there? What interests them?
Defining the audience helps decide on the language and register the presenter uses. The questions presenters ask at this stage are: is the subject new to the audience? How much do they know about it? Should the content be professional or more popular? How old are the audience (on average of course)? The answers to these questions will also determine which examples to use. It’s not uncommon that when presenting the same subject to different audiences, the examples change accordingly.
If the information about the audience is missing, using simple language and examples that the audience can relate to (even to the extent of clichés) is usually the better choice and a safe bet.
3. The Title
Only once the presenter answers the questions above, it’s time to determine or decide on the title. From my experience, and more often than not, even when my clients don’t alter the presentation’s content, after we start working they change the presentation’s name or title.
Is the title EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX BUT NEVER DARED TO ASK equally relevant to generation X, the millennials, and generation Z? It may be so.
However, it could also twist the idea and what inspired Woody Allen’s 1972 movie that was (loosely) based on Dr. David Reuben’s book.
Therefore, the same presentation for different audiences may require different titles or names.
The timeframe or the answer to the question; how much time does the presenter have, directly affects the script, the number of sub-themes and ideas a presentation covers, as well as how many examples the presenter uses. I have seen presenters that because they weren’t aware of the time had to either skip fundamental parts of their presentation or ramble on to the end of their address.
When building a presentation, presenters need to prepare and consider the length of time they have, knowing exactly what and how much content goes into each 10-minute, 30-minute, one hour, etc., time slot.
5. Tools and visual aids
A slideshow isn’t necessarily the right aid for every presentation. I believe the presentation is the essence while aids are merely tools. Clients come to me not only for their slideshows but also to learn how to get their messages and ideas across, as well as how to use presentations to support the achievement of their
goals. Sometimes, I will advise my clients to tell their audience a story. Others are better off using a whiteboard or flipchart, especially when they want to interact with the audience. Personally, I like combinations – a PowerPoint presentation together with using technology. For example, leaving an empty slide to use as a whiteboard during the presentation (a video clip on this is on its way. Promise to keep you posted).
What have we got (data, materials, etc.), what’s missing, and how to close the loopholes? Usually, this is the central part of my work. My clients don’t always realize, but sometimes a handwritten note they got can be their presentation’s centerpiece.
Often, my clients come armed with exemplary charts, tables, and hordes of data they want to present…, which is when we take a few steps back to article 2. Is this what the audience is coming to hear, see, and look at? If the information is paramount, consider handing it out as supportive material. My recommendation is that the audience gets insight not a tsunami of information.
Presenters are considered experts when they know how to simplify complicated concepts, and in my opinion, a presenter’s premise.
7. The script
Or, the story and storyline.
Sounds complicated? Not really. I tell my clients to take a piece of paper or open a new document on their device and draw a flowchart with a beginning, middle, and end, just like our process here.
– The beginning is like an entrée – it presents the speaker, subject(s), and sub-themes without elaborating.
– The middle part is the main course, and the major part of the presentation, i.e., the ideas in detail, data, and examples.
– The end – a summary, a CTA (call to action), and a slide with the presenter’s contact information.
8. Title or name, and bullet points
Whether the presentation is a slideshow or not, presenters need a document to work with that outlines the presentation. This document includes:
– Presentation’s title or name
– Main points or sub-themes
– Data and examples
This document is a summary based on the script. Each part, subject, sub-theme, idea, and example is summarized into bullet points. You can read how to present Data in this article
When my clients choose to use a slideshow (no matter which software they use), each subject gets a slide with a title, bullet points, and/or data. Once the information is in place, we choose the visuals (make sure they are relevant and correspond with the content), and finally the design (e.g., fonts, backgrounds, etc.)
10. Related materials
These are either sent in advance or handed out during or after the presentation. If the presenter wants the audience to review information before the presentation takes place, I advise my clients to send it in advance. But, when presenters seek the audience’s feedback, comments, etc., on a specific subject they have addressed, it’s better to hand out the materials during the presentation. And, if presenters want their audience to take materials for further reading or distribution (yes, for distribution. A great CTA!), I warmly recommend branding the handouts (and here’s another subject for a clip or two).
To conclude, two more things are as basic as the 10 steps above: