How to prepare a presentation
Think positiveMaking a presentation is a situation that many people approach with nervousness or even panic. This is a normal Human response when faced with many unfamiliar people our base instinct is to fight or run, which is why we produce adrenaline. This additional adrenaline can help you if you know how to harness it.
To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.
Setting a realistic objective
The reason for setting out a clear objective is to enable you to decide clearly what should be included in your presentation.
If you write it down in a single sentence and keep it in front of you it will focus your attention on your goal and prevent you from being drawn into other interesting but less relevant information that could confuse your audience.
A realistic objectives saves you time by making you concentrate on the key issues. There will always be more to say than time to say it!
Before you can develop your presentation you need to find out about the exact circumstance in which you will be presenting it.
You need to know:
1. Your audience
2. Where you will be
3. How much time you have
4. How long and how detailed it is to beThe following questions should help you.
1. What is the objective of the presentation?
2. What message do you need to convey?
3. What action or commitment do I need to create in the listeners?
4. Who will be in the audience?
5. How many will be present?
6. How much do they know about the subject?
7. What are their interests?
8. What terms will they understand?
9. What will their attitudes be?
10. Will some people be harder than others to convince?
11. Will their mood be: Hostile, friendly, indifferent?
12. Why am I giving this presentation at this time?
13. What is the venue – why there?
14. Am I familiar with the venue?
15. Is it big enough?
16. Does it have audio visual equipment?
17. If not can it be rented easily?
18. Where are the power points, do I need extension cables?
19. What type of power connections and voltage?
20. Will there be outside distractions?
21. How much time do I have?
Allow as much time for your research as you can at this stage to save time and trouble later.
Wherever possible and appropriate, meet with them to discuss their interests and levels of knowledge regarding the subject. Ask them what they want to know about the topic. Do not rely on third parties to tell you what they think are the interests and concerns of your participants. This approach also helps to build rapport with your audience.
Has anyone else tried to achieve this objective with this group?
Needs of People
1. Same or different level of skills and knowledge
2. Responsibilities and job titles
3. What do they currently know about the subject?
1. Who will help support your objective?
2. Who needs to be convinced to support the objective?
3. Who should you talk to before your presentation?
4. Will people be agreeable, disagreeable and neutral?
5. What time of the day is your talk, how will people feel then?
Will people be asked to do any of the following: give up control, space, money, receive more work without more pay, or more responsibility without more authority?
1. Who are they?
2. Will be at the meeting?
3. What can you do or say to establish rapport with them?
4. Who can you speak to ahead of time to build support?
5. What, if any, preconceived ideas will they have about you?
1. Any particular way you should dress to establish rapport?
2. Any word or examples you should be aware of?
Any regional differences for you to consider, if you are presenting in another part of your country or a different country?
Preparing your presentation
Start by putting your objective in a single sentence. Now using a mind map put down all the points you want to make that come to mind. Write down a single word or phrase for every fact, idea or bit of information that is in anyway connected with your presentation.
Do not worry if they cover several sheets of paper. The main thing is to collect all the points that could be included. You are bound to have more than you need at this stage.
Drawing a Horizontal Plan
Writing down a list of topics from start to finish does not let you see the whole of the presentation at one time. By making a horizontal plan you are more easily able to visualize and control your presentation.
Take a large piece of paper and work across it sideways. Build up the beginning, middle and end of the presentation in one view. This makes it easier for you to see the relationship between different parts of the presentation. It also allows you to make alterations in the various sections more easily.
Once you have an outline plan of your introduction, main part and conclusion, transfer the points from your mind map onto the horizontal plan.
Every good presentation has an introduction, a development and a conclusion. The meat of the presentation is in the body or development of the talk. Here you should have about 4 main sections.
Layout the 3 headings: Introduction, Development and Conclusion. Under Development the main sections you intend to use. You should now have a framework into which you fit the points from the mind map.
Now take all the notes and points you have written previously and transfer them, in vertical lists, into the relevant sections. By now you should have an approximate idea of what could be included in each of the main stages of the presentation.
Now mark the points of greatest importance to your objective. You can also mark the points of least importance. Which can leave out when you edit the material later.
You can now rewrite your Horizontal plan arranging the lists of points in the most logical order to achieve your objective and leaving out the points which are weakest.
Use coloured pens to mark where you will use visual aids.
To ensure the presentation run to time, speak the presentation aloud timing each section. You can then amend the time by removing the least interesting sections on your horizontal plan. This allows you to include your priority points within the time allocated.
The introduction is vital, not only for what you say, but how you say it. The delivery and animation of your first few words will set the tone for the rest of your presentation. The plan for the introduction is given below:
1. You must capture your audience immediately.
2. Show them why they need to listen, what is being said is important to them and how it affects them.
3. Tell them how long you will be speaking for.
4. Tell them when or if they can ask questions.
5. Tell them what you are trying to achieve.
Presentations are like airplanes; they at their most dangerous when taking off or landing.
Remember, what you say last will be remembered first. Your conclusion should draw into sharp focus the principle points that you want remembered, drive home the objective and show your audience what they should do.
1. The objective although not in the same words.
2. Main points that you want the audience to take away.
3. For commitment, action or agreement.
Making a notes system
Some people can memorise a whole lecture and still seem spontaneous on the day. However, this is a rare gift and most of us find that some form of notes or prompts are necessary.
There are 3 levels of speaker notes:
To prompt your memory and make sure that you follow the sequence that you have planned from your horizontal chart.
2. A complete set of headings, sub headings, links and summaries with indications of where visual aids will be used.
4. All the words of your presentation, but written in the spoken form.
Methods and Practical Hints on Notes Systems
Always prepare the notes of scripts yourself. Only you know how the information should flow and which parts need to be given special emphasis.
Avoid flimsy paper for scripts, cards are easier to hold and manage. Write on one side only and number each one in the top right hand corner.
If you want to keep the cards together make a hole with a hole punch in the top left hand corner and thread a treasury tag. Work the cards back and forth a time or two to loosen the cards on the tag as you turn them.
Use different coloured highlighter pens to mark where you intend to use visual aids or get audience participation.
Unless you are a very experienced speaker do not just rely on your visual aids to be your notes.
Choosing Your System
1. These are suitable when:
2. You are a very experienced presenter
3. Your subject matter is fairly simple
4. You work best from buzz words
5. Put down your headings on the card which can be handled easily. The words on each on card should cover the:
6. Theme each section with its sequence of ideas.
7. The time allowed for the presentation of the material contained on the card.
1. These are suitable for the majority of presenter most occasions. Print your notes on card and include:
2. The sequence of headings and sub headings.
3. Your introduction, link phrases, summaries and your conclusion.
4. The points where visuals will be used.
5. The points where audience participation is required with perhaps a few Discussion points to get things started.
6. The timing.Full Script
Use this when:
1. The occasion is formal and / or accuracy of phrasing is essential. (i.e.) in the presentation of a scientific paper which has to be reported verbatim.
2. There is a sequence of visuals requiring fixed cues for the projectionist.
3. Write out your presentation using the same sequence of headings and sub headings as for notes. Underline objectives, important passages, link phrases, summaries and most important your entire conclusion.
4. Gesture as you speak using your own, natural gestures. Do not try and act the part.
5. Using a lectern or table can get between you and your audience. (nervous people tend to hide behind these objects). Try especially with small groups to be close enough to them to observe their reactions and encourage them to participate.
6. Vary your voice delivery so that it is not so fast that your listeners do not have time to absorb your important points, but not so slow that they all fall asleep. Pause from time to time. It helps listeners appreciate the points you have just made.
7. Make sure that everyone has heard any question asked by the audience. In a large group always repeat the question so that everyone hears and understands it. It is annoying to be given an answer to an unheard question.
Reasons why rehearsal is important, no matter how well you have prepared your visual aids and text:
To become familiar with the venue, to arrange all the equipment so that everyone can see what needs to be seen, as well as hear.
To check your timing. Try to be a little under time at rehearsals the presence of an audience will slow you down on the day.
To check your voice; pitch, power, and modulation. Remember to speak up. Use a louder voice than normal. Make sure that you can speak the words out loud easily.
You will need a full check list at rehearsal. Always try to rehearse in the actual venue, if not find a room of similar dimensions. Some things to practice are:
Speaking from your notes. Look down only to refer to them. Look at your audience and try to imagine seeing them as individuals. However on the day do not worry if those listening do not appear attentive. A listeners face often appears negative when in repose because they are concentrating.
Try to memorise the sequence of your presentation: Main headings, headings, points where you will use visual aids. This will leave you free on the day to depart from your notes, if necessary then pick up again with relative ease.
If you are going to move around practice. Make sure you can carry your notes with you, or find somewhere to park them.
Deciding What to Wear
Decide in advance what you are going to wear. Your clothes are your first visual aid so make sure that they are appropriate for the venue and the audience. Wear clothes in which you feel comfortable and confident.
Speaking and Moving
When speaking it is easy to become rigid, transfixed in one spot.
Movement helps you relax and it helps the people listening too; it gives their eyes visual stimulus. Speak to individuals in the audience and make eye contact with them, make each person feel that you are talking to them.
In your rehearsal work out the best place for you to stand to enable you to move easily to your visual aids and to operate the equipment. Avoid talking to the screen or flipchart. Remember not to speak when you changing slides or turning the flipchart. The pause will give you time to think and the audience time to digest what you have just been talking about.
You cannot convince people if they wonder about your competence! You may need to establish your credibility in the field.
Mention Peoples Names
If you have worked with someone in your field who is well respected, you may say mid way through the talk (when I was working with ------ on this project he / she seemed to think we needed to take more time to explore other possibilities.
Mention Places you have Worked or Visited
If there are certain places that are known and respected by your group say, when I was working with ------, I learned -------- or when I was working with ------- organization I led a project on -------.Mention Academic Knowledge
Your professional qualifications may help your listeners believe in what you say. My studies at the Institute gave me the basis for the work I have been doing.
You can also quote journals, newspapers and respected sources to show that you have been keeping abreast with current information and developments.
Include 3rd Party Endorsements
As you consider your objective and your audience, you may want to include some third party endorsements. You can refer to another organization that uses / applies the product or service or idea you want your organization to buy. You can suggest they call certain people for information, or say that someone, not present at the meeting endorses your recommendations.
On the day
Before the Presentation
1. Make sure you arrive early
2. Make a final check on all the equipment, materials or props to make sure they are where they should be.
3. Find out if there have been any last minute changes to your audience
Make sure the chairperson knows exactly who you are and what you are going to talk about. A brief summary that you can hand out may be helpful.
Ask the chairperson about any administrative matters that will need to be dealt with and who should announce them.
Ask to be allowed to sum up and conclude the presentation after the question and answer session.
If possible chat informally with the audience as they arrive. You will get an insight into their attitudes and views. Getting to know them a bit will help you relax.
Thank the chairperson, greet the audience and start at once on your introduction. Be as natural and relaxed as you can.
If the chairperson has made a mistake in their introduction of you, do not correct them immediately. Find an opportunity later on to give the correct information, as tactfully as possible.
If the chairperson accidentally anticipates something you were going to say, take it in your stride. Compliment them on what they have said.
Handling questions and answer sessions
Some speakers are happy to take questions from the audience as they arise during the presentation. But to be able to handle questions spontaneously requires years of practice.
If you are prepared to take questions from the audience as part of your presentation, it is better to do it before your final summary and close so that you are in control of the discussion and thus can ensure that you end on a high note. If you finish your presentation, then take questions; there is always the danger of petering out inconclusively, unsatisfactorily and sometimes so contentiously that everything you said before has been forgotten.
Here are some guidelines to handle questions:
Plan when and how questions will be handled and agree this in advance with the chairperson of the meeting if there is one.
During the presentation
Plusses This is when they have most meaning and provide feedback on the audiences understanding of the topic.
Minuses They can throw out your timing
They may interest only a small part of the audience
Premature questions may upset the sequence if answered
How to handle questions in this instance is a matter of personal skill in evaluating the questioner and the question quickly.
1. Is it relevant?
2. Is it covered later in the presentation?
3. Is it necessary for understanding what follows?
4. Is it a good opportunity for reinforcing?
After the Presentation
Avoid a question and answer session after your final summary. If you fit a session in beforehand you finish on a high note, minimizing the possible effects of negative attitudes during questions.
Questions and questioners
The Argumentative type
Do not try to win the argument, it cannot be done. Generally this type of questioner is looking for recognition from the rest of the audience, so give it to him / her.
“That’s a good point, can we go into it in more detail after this session”
“That is a good point. Thank you for raising it”
Answer it quickly with a promise to elaborate later and get back to the presentation or other questions.
The Loaded Question
Another recognition seeker. It is usually unanswerable, in case he / she has a counter question ready to turn back on you.
Sometimes you can anticipate where the question is going, so jump in and both ask and answer it, Try paraphrasing and checking back with the very long winded question to make sure, you the questioner and the rest of the audience are sure of the question.
When you don’t know the answer
Honesty is generally the best policy. If you do not know, but can find out offer to do so and get back to the questioner. If you should know, but didn’t prepare thoroughly apologise briefly, and learn for next time.
If you need thinking time
1. Pause, then say one of the following:
2. Could you repeat the question please?
3. Would you expand a little so that I can better understand what you are asking?
4. That’s an interesting question, while I reflect, has anyone else got any thoughts.
5. I need time to think about that one ---- pause, then when you have gathered your thoughts give an answer.
NEVER EMBARRASS A QUESTIONER
Think of Your Listeners
Listening is much more difficult than reading
"Listeners" listen somewhere between 25% and 50% of the time
Information must be taken in with no backtracking
Short-term memory holds only 5 to 7 points
People remember only 10% of what they hear versus 50% of what they read
If your audience only listens only part of the time and remembers only 10% of what they hear, then your window of communication is around 2.5% to 5.0% of your total presentation time!
Have pity your poor listeners!
Do everything you can to help your listeners to listen and remember.
Design to Help People Listen
1. Organize - provide structure and framework for the data you will present, provide a "jigsaw puzzle box top" for listeners to organize and reconstruct your verbal message list points to be covered and provide a "road map" of how you will get there
2. Illustrate - help listeners to visualize - convert data to information
paint a picture
tell a story
3. Repeat - improve audience reception of data
remember that "listeners" listen only 25 to 50% of the time
repetition often suggests importance
Support your communication objective
Enhance your verbal message, not detract from it
Set the tone and emotion of your verbal message with colours and images
Good Visuals Are
Visible - You have to be able to see it to believe it
Visuals should be legible to most distant viewer
Minimum legibility standards: 25mm letter height on screen per 10m viewing distance
Data needed for legibility calculation
Distance from projector to screen
Lens rating of projector (in inches or mm)
Distance of most distant viewer from screen
Typewritten copy will not be visible!
Enlarge it on copy machine
Use 18 point type or larger when laying out transparencies on a computer
Limit number of words per line
3 to 4 per line optimal 6 to 7 maximum
Limit number of lines per visual
Less than 10 per transparency
Clear - Instantly recognizable in context to your verbal message
Focus on one idea per visual
Avoid too much primary information
Use colour to focus on key information
Directly relate to communication objective
Complement verbal message
Add impact or tone to message
Provide overview or "whole picture"
1. Eliminate extraneous information and clutter
2. Visually simplify using design, color, or overlays
Ways of Adding Variety
1. Combine both left and right brain sensory channels
2. Left brain: words, sentences, symbols
3. Right brain: graphs, charts, symbols, pictures, etc.
4. Add color for emphasis, but beware of color connotations
5. Use movement with transparency pens, overlays, slide dissolves, etc.
6. Change backgrounds to change pace or introduce new topic
7. Change sequence of eye scanning (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) with design
Home Page: http://www.plu.edu/~media
10 Tips for Using Visual Aids
Visual aids are an aid to communication, not a substitute for it. People have become bored by presentations using computer programmes such as PowerPoint slides, so you have to work doubly hard to keep them interested.
If you do use these types of programmes keep the clean and easy to view.
1. Plan your presentation before creating visual aids.
Know what you want the audience to do as a result of hearing your presentation. Then figure out what they need to know to do what you want them to do. Then create a simple outline that logically and clearly developes your main points. Finally, create visual aids to support your message.
2. Use visual aids sparingly.
They are aids to your presentation – not its sum and substance. Use them to highlight and support your key points.
3. Make them visible to the entire audience.
Projecting an image people can’t see is as senseless as speaking so softly people can’t hear.
4. Talk to the audience, not to the aid.
Look at the audience at least 80% of the time. Avoid turning your back to the audience.
5. Avoid laser pointers.
Your aid should be so clear that your audience can easily follow along. Use your hand, if necessary. (If you absolutely have to use a pointer, set it down after you are finished. Holding on to it will only encourage you to use it for every point on every slide.) They also exagerate your nervousness. The eyes of your viewers follow the light source, when waved it becomes very annoying.
6. Explain the content of the aid when you first show it.
As soon as you show people an object, they will look at it – even if you’re talking about something else. Don’t make them divide their attention.
7. When you finish with the aid, remove it, cover it, or turn it off.
(See above.) When using PowerPoint, tap the B key and the screen will go to black. Tap any other key and the screen light up again.
8. Limit the amount of material on any one aid.
Use each slide to convey a single point. Bullet points – no more than four or five per slide – explain, illustrate, or substantiate that one point.
9. Avoid clip art from well-known sources.
They are almost always boring and amateurish. DO use images, graphs, and charts, whenever possible and appropriate.
10. Be prepared to give your presentation without your visual aids.
Murphy’s Law -- "if anything can go wrong, it will" – especially with anything involving technology and an audience. Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Take a hard copy of your slides.