Presentation Skills: You’ve been asked to give a presentation – where do you start?

By Morag Barrett on April 24, 2012

Posted by Morag Barrett | April 24, 2012Presentation Skills: You’ve been asked to give a presentation – where do you start?I am regularly invited to speak at conferences and group events, it is always an exciting opportunity and one that takes time and focus to ensure success.  While I enjoy the opportunity for public speaking or facilitating presentations, I am often asked, how do you structure a presentation?  Where do you start?When asked to give a presentation many of us fall into the first trap of “what am I going to talk about?”  Here is my recommendation for the first step you should take (we will come onto structure in my next posting).  Presentation and Public Speaking isn’t about you and what you want to talk about, it is ALL about your audience and what they want to hear about.  Start by asking the organizer (or yourself) the following questions about the presentation they have requested.  These will help you to frame the context and focus for what you NEED to talk about:Audience Focused QuestionsWhat are the goals of the conference / event that you are participating in?What is the Audiences point of view? Are they for or against the subject of your presentation?Do the organizers have a preference for what they would like you to discuss in your presentation?How experienced is your audience in your area? for exampleAre they novices / beginners to the topic and unaware of your subject?Are they aware, but don’t understand it or how to apply it?Do they understand, but don’t believe in it/recognize the importance for them?Do they believe and if so are they ready to act?What does the audience need to know or be able to do by the end of the presentation? for example, make a decision, vote on a course of action, or is it simply for information.Logistic QuestionsFinally you need to consider questions regarding the logistics of the event.  Planning a presentation for 300 people is different to talking to a smaller group (more on this in a later posting).How much time has been allocated for your presentation?Does it include time for questions?When is your presentation scheduled on the agenda? for example immediately before or after lunch may change how you approach your presentationWhat else is included in the agenda?What is the person before / after me talking about?What is the room layout?How large will the audience be?What equipment will be available? LCD projector/ overhead projector, microphones etcHow long will you have to set up any equipment / displays etc?Will you be introduced? If so by whom?Do you need to submit advance copies of your presentation?  If so what is the time-line?If you are representing your company you may want to check what permissions or reviews you need to complete.  You may also find that your company has experts in the training department and/or marketing team who can help you practice your delivery and perfect the content of your presentation to ensure a professional end result.  Make use of these resources if you have access to them, they really will add value both to your content and to your skills as an effective presenter.All this, and you haven’t started to write your content.  However, consider these points now and it will avoid mistakes later on.Related ArticlesTags »communicationPresentation Skills Share
Go Back