Seldom will you go a long time as a manager without having to present some kind of message, Whether it’s to gain more funding, to convince a customer to use your services or simply to address your team members, you will need to present a message where decisions have to be made and your credibility will be on the line.
How can you make sure you blow them away with your words? How can you prepare effectively to give yourself the best chance of success?
Here are some ideas:
Ask yourself: What objectives do I have? This will drive your whole presentation. Your goals have to be clear, so you can prepare according to exactly what you want to achieve.
Then, what do you need to know about the audience? If it’s your team members, you hopefully will know their characteristics, and will be able to plan accordingly for the responses you most likely will get. But what about if you’re presenting to someone you have never spoken to before? You can still do some research on them or their company to ascertain what kind of person they might be. This will give you confidence in preparing the message specifically for them.
Decide how long the presentation will be. If it’s, say, 15 minutes, divide it up into manageable chunks or units. Write down all the points you want to make, and put them in order. This will create the framework for what you want to say. Prepare the material at the level of the audience; you don’t want to go too deep, but you don’t want to bore them with simplicities.
Don’t use too many facts and figures that will cause confusion and boredom. Prepare any visuals you might be using in a way that complements what you are saying. If your presentation is simply the reading of slides or papers that the audience could have read themselves, you will soon bore them.
Prepare something that will grab their attention. Make the opening come alive with a hard-hitting question, or a statement that makes them think. Then give them a hook, something that will tease them into wondering what the next piece of information is. Create interest by observations or interesting stories rather than a list of facts or figures.
When you’ve prepared the material, read it through and act as if you are the audience. Would this information keep me interested? Does it answer all my questions in my mind? Has it impressed me so that I want to know more?
When you’ve prepared effectively, you might want to bounce the ideas off a colleague so you can get their feedback. Ask for constructive ways you can make the material come alive, and how it would affect them if they were listening to it. That way, you have rehearsed it and got to know how you sound when you deliver it. Remember…keep to the objectives and goals, and you’ll have prepared a presentation that blows them away!
Our next message will be about how you can make a presentation that blows them away!
Originally published: 9 August, 2010
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