Plan a Presentation
Presentation planning is a useful and necessary skill in the professional world as well as school. Whether you need to sell a product, or get a passing grade in your class, planning a presentation takes time and dedication. You will want to figure out the best way to construct your material, considering your audience and your presentation's point. From there, work on building your slides and materials. Assemble information in a logical order that best illustrates your point. Practice your presentation regularly before delivering it. This can help you figure out any information that should be cut or restructured.
Assembling Your Best Material
- Think about the goal of your presentation. You should always begin with the end in mind when it comes to planning a presentation. Think about what you're trying to convey, and the best means to do so in the time you have.
- Try jotting down your most important points. See if you notice a key point emerging. If you wanted your audience to take away one thing from this presentation, what would it be?
- Presentations often involve sharing information. However, it isn't enough to just bombard your audience with facts. What do these facts do? What bigger point are you making with the information you have?
- Consider your audience. Your audience will come into the presentation with certain expectations. Know a bit about your audience, their background, and their beliefs. This can help you structure your presentation based around audience needs.
- One major question is, "How much background information will my audience have about this topic?" You need to be able to fill in some blanks for the audience, so keep in mind what your audience may not know.
- Also, what does your audience expect from the presentation? Are you trying to sell them a product, introduce them to a new idea, alter their way of thinking? Think about the kind of people in your audience. Do you have a tougher crowd, or do you have a group of enthusiastic people excited about what you're going to say?
- Select your main points. What statements, facts, and points best illustrate the theme of your presentation? These should be included in the body of your work. Think about the length of your presentation. A 10-minute presentation, for example, should include no more than 3 points.
- What points best speak to one another? Information should flow in a cohesive fashion. Say you're trying to convince a company to implement a recycling program. You have the three following points: corporate pollution is a major contributor to global warming, recycling can help the company save money, and global ice caps are melting at an alarming rate.
- While they're all good points, the third does not fit. The first two involve how to improve the company's public image and profits, while the third is just a fact. Try to pick another point related to the company's relationship with recycling.
- Find your best supporting information. Comb through the research you are presenting. Look for your most solid supporting information. This should be the information that will really get the audience thinking, and can inspire change. Supporting information should do three things:
- It should add clarity to your argument, meaning it will explain anything the audience may not understand. For example, a brief overview of pollution's effect on climate change.
- Information should also add authority. You should make connections with existing research, studies, and information. For example, you could mention there is a consensus in the scientific community that global warming is manmade, and briefly overview a few studies.
- Lastly, information should add color to your argument. No one likes to sit through a lecture. Try incorporating visuals, like pictures and videos. You could, for instance, show a picture of the amount of waste the average corporation produces in one month.
Finding a Trajectory for the Presentation
- Start with a solid introduction. Once you've assembled your information, you can get started on outlining your presentation. A presentation must start with a solid introduction that grabs the audiences attention.
- Include the basics of introducing yourself. This can be brief. You can say something like, "I'm Clara Thompson from Clean Water Action, and I would like to address your company today."
- Find a way to get your audience's attention. Why should they listen to you? You can open with a question, or a fact, that will grab their attention right away. For example, "Have you ever passed a body of water covered in green sludge and wondered how this happened? The answer may surprise you. Pollution from corporations, like yours, is a leading cause of water pollution worldwide."
- Present your research and work in the body of the presentation. Your body should make up about 60 to 70% of your presentation, so put all your best points here.Think of your body as the path to your point. Therefore, you want to find a way to present the information in a logical fashion.
- For example, you're trying to get the corporation to alter their recycling program. Start by overviewing the vast amount of corporate pollution in the world.
- Explain the consequences of this. Show how this pollution contributes to climate change. Then, show your corporation what they can do. Overview ways they can change their policies, and the impact those changes could have.
- You have given a clear path here. You started by explaining the problem, moved on to the problem's consequences, and then offered a solution.
- Use linking statements to make your points clear. Linking statements are transitional statements that help bridge the gap between ideas. This signals to your audience you're going to switch topics, so your presentation doesn't get confusing.
- Common linking statements include things like, "Another important issue...," "Based on this data, you can now see..." and, "This brings me to my main point..."
- For example, "Now that I've shown you the effects of corporate pollution, this brings me to my main point. What can you do to stop it?"
- Make use of visuals and graphics on your slides. Your audience may get bored with data and lecturing. It's a good idea to add graphics to your slides to shake things up. A short video may also help.
- If you have any graphs or diagrams that will help illustrate your point, use them. Physically seeing information can help make your point more clear.
- You should also see if there are any videos you can include. A brief video of someone succinctly explaining an issue can shake things up a bit.
- Pictures are also nice. Each slide should have a picture related to the topic at hand.
- Conclude your presentation. A conclusion should summarize your points, and leave your audience considering the topic you presented. The conclusion should only take up 5 to 10% of your presentation, so keep it brief.
- You only need one slide. Recap what your point was. Begin with something like, "As you can see..." and then briefly repeat your main point.
- A visual can help as well. Try adding one last visual aid that sums up your point. A graph or diagram would work well here.
Practicing Your Presentation
- Strive for 1 to 2 minutes of talking per slide. Time yourself as you practice. Going over 1 to 2 minutes per slide can bore your audience.
- If you're taking longer, cut some information out. You do not want to talk fast to include all information, as this can make you difficult to understand.
- For accuracy, talk in your regular voice. Do not speak too fast or too slow. You want to make sure you can fit in all information talking at a normal rate.
- Keep your information relevant to the theme. As you read through your presentation, be on the lookout for irrelevant information. There may be some facts that are interesting, but do they really illustrate the point? When looking for areas to trim down, cut information that does not speak to your theme.
- Are any facts extraneous? It's great to illustrate the effects of global warming, but do you really need five examples of environmental decay? Maybe you could cut it down to two or three.
- Listen to yourself presenting. It's a good idea to record yourself and then play the recording back. Listen to yourself talk to see what you need to work on.
- You should sound enthusiastic when presenting. You should talk without hesitance. There should not be a lot of "ums" in your speech.
- Make sure you're using your linking sentences. Remember, between topics you should say things like, "And this brings me to the following..." rather than jumping between topics.
- Watch the time. Make sure your presentation isn't going on for too long.
- Practice until you have little need for your notes. It can be distracting if someone is reading from a script during a presentation. While a small index card with key points jotted down can help, you want to minimize your need for notes. Keep practicing until you can deliver your presentation smoothly without fumbling with your notes.
Sources and Citations