How to Prepare Your Presentation: 3 Simple Steps to Nail It
How do you prepare for presentations? If you’re like most busy professionals when asked to give a presentation in an hour, or the next day, you probably first reach for a recent slide deck on the topic you’ll be speaking about. You rearrange the slides, create a couple more and you’re done! Right? Wrong.
I have a much better idea for you and it starts with your audience not your slides.
Research shows that high level audiences report 49% of the presentations they sit through are a waste of time. Why? Because the information isn’t relevant to their specific concerns.. If you follow these three simple preparation steps, your presentations will hit the bull’s eye.
1. Who Is In the Audience?
If possible, know their names and roles. Make sure you know the levels of influence represented. It makes a difference as to whether they are motivated by details and tactics or big ideas and strategic alignment.
Know the predisposition of the audience. Are they familiar with your service or product? Will they be difficult to persuade or do they just need a nudge? Learn as much as you can about their individual preferences. I once learned one of the Directors I was presenting to hated documents that were stapled. I didn’t have one staple in the materials I distributed in the meeting.
2. Why Do They Care?
Ken Haemer, a Research Manager at AT&T once said, “Giving a presentation without having your audience in mind is like writing a love letter “To Whom it May Concern”.
You must be familiar with the specific business problem that your product or service will solve. Understand why this problem needs to be solved. Arm yourself with information as to what happens if the problem isn’t solved. If you don’t know this information specifically, you have the power of the internet to understand industry trends and current issues encountered by similar businesses.
3. What Questions Do They Have?
We can’t always anticipate every question on the minds of our audience members but we can certainly anticipate most of them. Some questions are more challenging than others. I’ve been so bold as to list on a slide the questions I thought might be on their minds, and ask, “Are these the critical questions you want answered? Are there any others?”
I assured them the questions would be addressed in the three key points of the presentation. I immediately had their attention. Whether you disclose your list of questions or not, at least make a list of those you might be asked and then determine the three key points that address those questions or concerns.
Now it’s time to create your slide deck. Design your slides carefully leaving a role for you the presenter to augment the information. A slide deck doesn’t move audiences to action, you do because you are prepared and your information is relevant to their concerns. You can now feel confident that you are on target to exceed their expectations.
Next post…How do you prepare YOURSELF?
About our guest author: Judie Knoerle, my colleague and author of UPFRONT Persuasion Through Presentation, a globally branded presentations skills program. Judie is a presentations coach extraordinaire and she is called the “Presentations Whisperer” in Chicago where she lives. – See more guest posts by Judie.