Getting Presentations Started: For Speakers
Creating an engaging presentation takes planning and preparation. The clearer you are in your preparation, the clearer your speech will be when you present it! Use this guide to get started the next time you have to craft a presentation. Note: These suggestions can take place in any order that works for you and should be used as a set of reminders, not a formula. Feel free to skip suggestions that do not work for you or the situation you are in – make it your own!
Know Your Audience
- Know what your audience cares about. What interests or drives them? What concerns them?
- Figure out their prior knowledge and learning preferences. What do they already know and what is confusing? What is the right amount of material and how should it be communicated?
Define the Objectives
- Before you craft the talk, define what success looks like. How do you want to feel? What do you want the audience to take away? How will you know if they did?
- List 1-3 objectives or learning goals for what you want your audience to learn. The shorter the talk, the fewer objectives you have.
Structure the Arc
- Choose a structure. Inspirational talks need stories, informative talks need data and examples. It is generally useful to have a problem, illustration, and takeaways.
- Outline your talking points. Avoid scripting everything, but instead be selective, like scripting the first and last lines or the transitions.
Know the Context
- Prepare yourself: if you can, ask questions to figure out the purpose of talk, ideal length, time of day, space, sound, tech provided, etc.
- Know your listener’s context. Why are they there and what are they trying to get out of it? What comes before your talk and what comes after? Who else is speaking?
- Get all the ideas out there! Brainstorm freely about any ideas that come to mind that fit the audience, context, and objectives. Don’t wordsmith or script – just get your ideas out.
- Group all ideas that go together and label each category with a brief phrase, tagline, or thesis.
Make Delivery Choices
- Decide the length of each section and write approximate timing on your outline. Put the number of slides for each section, if any. Short sections have fewer slides.
- Decide your walks and movements, if any. Practice tone, speed, volume, gestures, and facials to enhance your content.