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October 12, 2017

Presentations Thrive When You Start with a Plan

What do kitchen remodels, holiday shopping and presentations have in common? The outcome is better when you start with a plan.

Presentations can be intimidating. Whether you’re giving the presentation or preparing it for someone else, you need to decide the key messages and how to keep the audience’s attention.

At JayRay we work to improve presentation skills for clients and our own team, both in preparing content and delivering the messages. One of our favorite (and local) presentation trainers is Guila Muir, who teaches exercises to gain confidence and credibility. Some of her tips are helpful reminders: be aware of your posture, voice inflection and attire. 

So how do we ensure a successful presentation? We developed a presentation-planning brief, outlining key steps to help us focus on strategy and content. 

Topics in our presentation-planning brief include:

Audience: Who’s your audience and what do they care about most? How do you want them to respond to your presentation?

Situation: What is the context of your message? What are the “hot issues” in the organization? What concerns might the audience have about your topic?

Content: Start by completing a purpose statement. “I’m here today to …” 

Message: Choose three main points for your presentation. Yes, just three. Your audiences will remember the points, you can provide some detail and you won’t risk going over time. This article explains more about the power of three in public speaking.

When you answer the questions above, you’ll have a general outline for the presentation content. Filling in the important details will be easier, and your listeners will remember what you said.

Consider ways to use PowerPoint and other tools to supplement your presentation—they shouldn’t be the focus. This Forbes article offers tips for more interesting PowerPoint presentations. For example:
  • Don’t use your slides as a teleprompter, filled with everything you need to say.
  • Use PowerPoint to support your talk, not as permanent documentation of a topic.
  • Prepare a separate handout with the main points if you’d like; your presentation isn’t designed to stand alone and shouldn’t be provided as copies.

Presentations may never be easy projects. But they are worthwhile and more successful when you invest time in planning. 

What insights do you have about preparing presentations? Tweet us at @JayRayAdsPR.