Six Key Questions to Help You Get Your Presentation Absolutely Right

One of the key reasons many presentations or public speeches fail to hit the mark is because the presenter has spent insufficient time planning the content and structure. The tendency is to rush in to writing a script or preparing a PowerPoint presentation without first stepping back to analyse what’s needed and what’s going to work best.

This article outlines six key questions which, if carefully considered and acted upon at the planning stage, will improve the effectiveness of any presentation.

What

The first thing to clarify is what you are talking about. Whilst the subject matter is often clear from the outset, it isn’t always. Titles and expectations can be ambiguous and it’s important to clear up any ambiguity at the start.

Who

Before getting down to detailed planning, it’s important to understand your audience.

Who are you talking to? What is their level of knowledge and interest? What are their expectations? How many of them will there be?

Many people approach presentations back to front. Their starting point is ‘what do I want to tell them or want them to know?’ Effective presenters, however, put themselves in their audience’s shoes and ask themselves

  • Why are they here (and are they volunteers or press-ganged)?
  • How much do they know already?
  • How much do they think they know? (this may be different from how much they really know and need to be addressed sensitively)
  • Do they want to be informed? Persuaded? Entertained? Or is it something else? Or possibly a combination of some/all of these?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • Why would they be interested/what would catch their interest?
  • If there’s just one message I’d like them to take home and act on, what is it?

If you spend time considering and answering these questions, you’ll have some very useful information to help you decide on the detailed content and how best to present it.

Why

Considering your audience, while vital, is only part of the equation. Ask yourself ‘why am I giving this speech or presentation?’ Note, the question here is not ‘why is this presentation happening?’ It’s why are you, rather than anyone else, giving it. Having established that, ask yourself:

  • What is my objective?
  • What impression do I want to leave the audience with – of me, my product, service or company?
  • What action do I want them to take as result of listening to me?

Do you want to

  • Inform
  • Persuade
  • Entertain

them? Is there another purpose? Or a mix of some or all of these? What/s most important?

Now put this alongside the information you’ve already gathered – how do the two compare? What adjustments might you need to make to ensure that you take proper account of the needs of both your audience and your own objectives?

When

You’ll also find it helpful to consider some questions about time.

For example, when and in what context is the presentation taking place? If it’s straight after lunch (often referred to as ‘the graveyard slot’), for example, you’ll want to pay even more attention than usual to how you grab and keep people’s attention.

If it’s part of a conference programme, then you’ll find it helpful to consider how it dovetails with other elements of the agenda. If it’s an after dinner speech you may wish to keep it relatively brief and upbeat though this will, of course, depend on the wider circumstances.

And, of course, you’ll want to be absolutely clear about how long you’ve got, and whether that includes time for any questions/discussions that may follow.

Where

As part of your planning, it’s important to consider where you are giving the speech or presentation – its size, facilities and how much flexibility there is with regard, for example, to seating arrangements.

If, for example, it’s a large auditorium, then you’ll almost certainly need to use a microphone and, if possible, should ideally practise with this first. You’ll also want to consider how you use the stage – or whether you’re going to stand at a lectern and use powerful visuals centre stage, to help you tell your story.

If you want to include a demonstration, then you’ll need to be satisfied that everyone will be able to see/hear easily.

Whatever the size of the venue, it’s always wise to check what facilities they have and that any planned equipment or other aids are available or can be safely accommodated.

How

Once you’ve got clarity about the five previous questions you’re be in a good position to decide how to structure your content, and how best to deliver it. Would it be helpful, for example, to include a demonstration or some ‘hands on’ practice? What, if any, audio-visual aids would enhance your overall effectiveness – or can you, as is often the case, do just as well without?

If you keep these six questions in mind when planning your presentation you’ll find it easy to decide what to leave in, what to take out and how to deliver it for maximum positive effect.

I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

From: The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling

Read This Article If You Want to Give the Best Presentation of Your Life

By giving the best presentation of your life you will expand your skills and abilities in public speaking. The expectations you have of yourself will be increased. Your progress towards greater confidence, a broader network base and a widened field of potential clients will be realized. Winners stand out from the pack. They are looked up to and people who are looked up to become leaders. You will be viewed as a leader. People follow leaders.

If you are reading this article then obviously you want to improve your presentation skills. You realize that these skills are important not only in business but in other walks of life as well. You’re not content with your present status quo; you seek improvement, growth and positive change. You are to be congratulated. Just be prepared to work for that improvement – hard work, and lots of it. Paradigms are not broken and reset by slackers.

Do you need to excel? To continually improve and develop? Would you relish change or do you harbor a certain uneasiness about it? Improvement means growth. Growth means change. Approaching change often triggers apprehension. Apprehension though, is not necessarily a bad thing. It can cause us to pause, think and reflect on a course of action we’re about to embark on. Jesus Christ himself said, “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14: 28) That is, consider in advance the outcome(s) of what you’re planning. Embrace the positives. Minimize the negatives, if there are any. Then proceed.

America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” You should be proud that you aspire to be the best. But giving the best presentation of your life goes far beyond that. You want to exceed all now established limits – to break the mold so completely that a whole new standard is set. Your paradigms will be forever changed to a new and higher level. Be proud that you want to be skilled at such an important level. “Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself, he will not station himself before common-place men.” (Proverbs 22:29) You’re now headed for higher ground. It’s time to get “gussied up”.

The challenge of giving the best presentation of your life will involve work and preparation on your part. How to speak in public and presenting well requires attention to aspects such as:

o Poise and grooming

o Natural use of relevant language

o Application of quotes, anecdotes and humor

o Overcoming any fear of public speaking

o Knowledge of presentation programs and techniques

o Mastery of your presentation topic material

With proper preparation and perseverance there is little you cannot accomplish in time. If you genuinely think you’ll succeed, you will. It’s up to you and you alone. In upcoming articles we will discuss things you can do and techniques you can apply to ultimately give the best presentation of your life – again and again and again. You have my backing and support.

Living Through the Timeshare Presentation

If you go on a vacation to someplace exotic there is a good possibility that you will be lured into a timeshare presentation. They will give you a lot of good reasons to sit through their speech and often they will offer you something that sounds good enough for you to bite. I know that for my wife and I we have sat through our fair share of timeshare presentations and we have even ended up buying a few, but what can you do to make sure that you don’t buy, especially if you aren’t in a position to buy?

Sometimes when we go on vacation we are able to get a great rate on our room or vacation package because we are willing to sit through the timeshare presentation. This is completely understandable. They are in a position to make a lot of money with your timeshare purchase and you are able to save a lot of money on your vacation by being willing to sit through the presentation. The danger comes in because they are in a position to win the struggle of averages. A considerable number of people that are willing to sit through the presentation and do not want to buy will end up buying because they are very good at presenting their side of the argument. That is how they make their money, so you need to be prepared not to purchase from the start. Make sure that you even tell them (although they have heard it before) that you are just there to get the discount, and when they get to the sales part you will be ready to tell them no right away.

Of course once you get beyond that hurdle you are not really done. Another sales person, usually in a higher position will come out to give you an offer that you can’t refuse. This is a dangerous place for you to be in because they will give you a good offer and you will recognize it. But add it up in your head and realize that you will be making those monthly payments for years, perhaps even after your circumstances change and you aren’t able to take advantage of the timeshare vacation.

So before you take them up on the vacation discount make sure you have resolved in your mind exactly what the outcome will be and stick to it. Even if the pressure gets heavy you need to stick to your word and let it be no. If, of course, you find that it is something that you really want then you should go for it, but make sure to think about it first.