If you’ve been asked to give a presentation, you might be overwhelmed thinking about where to start. Public speaking is no easy task, and it can be even more daunting when you don’t know where to start. The following strategies will help you break down the process of preparing a presentation. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of creating a powerful and dynamic presentation from start to finish.
Step 1: Analyze Your Audience
The first step in preparing a presentation is to know as much as possible about the audience to whom you will be speaking. It’s important to gather information about their background, interests, and prior knowledge of the topic. The more you know about your audience, the better you can tailor your presentation to fit their needs.
Step 2: Select a Topic
If a topic is not already assigned to you, try to choose something that your audience will find relevant and interesting. You also want to choose a topic that you are knowledgeable about and that you find interesting yourself. It’s much easier to give a presentation that you are passionate about and your audience will feed off your energy and enthusiasm for the topic.
Step 3: Define Your Objectives
Once you have chosen your topic, you want to focus on what it is that you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Try to sum up your main objective in one sentence. For example, “If there is only one thing I want my audience to learn it’s…” Use this statement to stay focused on the objective as you prepare and develop your presentation.
Step 4: Prepare the Body of Your Presentation
Now it’s time to think about the content of your presentation. Be sure to consider how much time is allotted for your presentation as you prepare the content. You also want to consider the knowledge of your audience so you don’t prepare something that is too basic or too advanced. As you prepare the body of your presentation, you want to break it down into three main points that support your overall objective. You want to support each point with data and facts. You can also illustrate your points using quotes, personal experiences, stories, props, photographs, charts, or video clips. If you are preparing a slideshow, be sure to keep it simple and not too text-heavy. You also want to avoid flashy transitions or cheesy clip-art and animations.
Step 5: Prepare the Introduction and Conclusion
One you have prepared the body of your presentation, you want to think about how you are going to begin and end your presentation. The opening of a presentation is extremely important, as you only have a matter of seconds to hook your audience and set the tone for what’s to come. You really want to attract your audience’s attention with a powerful and compelling opening. You also want to clearly state the topic and the purpose of your presentation so our audience knows what to expect.
During the conclusion, you want to reinforce the ideas you communicated throughout the presentation. Remember that your audience won’t remember everything you said, so focus on the main points. By reinforcing your main points you will help your audience to remember what was most important.
Step 6: Practice and Rehearse
Many people spend weeks preparing their presentation and then very little time practicing it. However, practicing the presentation is equally as important as the content you present. You want to be sure you are comfortable with your topic and what you plan to say. You also want to avoid stuttering or using unnecessary filler words such as “um” and “well.” You also want to pay attention to your body language to be sure you are making eye contact and avoiding awkward or distracting gestures. You should practice several times in front of the mirror as well as in front of a family member or friend that can provide helpful feedback.