Powerful Presentations Require Proper Preparation

woman presenting with microphone in hand

by Richard Highsmith

What goes in to making a memorable presentation? And when I say memorable, I don’t mean it negatively. Everybody has experienced the pain of a disastrous presentation. You may remember it forever, but I want to tell you how to make it never happen again.

Different types of presentations require different approaches. The preparation referred to in the title must fit the needs of each particular category of presentation. Here are three broad types with the proper preparations recommended.

1. Sales – This category includes the obvious… selling a product. But also consists of all types of persuasive speeches. Even not-for-profit fundraising is actually sales. The important preparation is to know your client. You must know how to answer their question… “What’s in it for me?” Whether it has actually been asked or not, it is fundamental to making the sale. Study your audience ahead of time. What is their need and how have they met it in the past? How well did their previous solution work? If you can answer these questions, you will be able to speak to “what’s in it?”. The preparation is to do the research and learn the answers. Then when making the presentation, keep your audience uppermost in your mind. Everything you say should provide answers to those questions. If you talk about features of your product or service, it must be tied to a benefit that meets their need. By focusing on your audience and their needs you will be successful in persuasive presentations.

2. Education – Teaching, training, reporting… imparting information. The key to achievement with these presentations is to know your subject. When the task is transfer of knowledge, you must understand the informational content thoroughly. In fact you must understand it so well that you know the top three key points of information. If you try to shovel as much material as possible in the allotted time, the important pieces will be lost in the clutter. Three is an important number because most audiences can remember that many key points. So focus your presentation on the most three important points and only touch on the balance.

3. Entertainment – Performing, amusement, diversion and some types of team bonding events. To be successful you must know yourself. Are you familiar with your strengths and weaknesses in public speaking? Do you understand the difference between who you are and what you present? Speakers who excel at entertaining audiences know the importance of being themselves. My first professional experience in public speaking was as a college professor. I was in charge of the classroom and gave my lectures stiffly. When I began doing corporate training I loosened up some, but continued to maintain control. Later I studied improvisational comedy and learned to let go and not to say “no.” When things went away from my “plan,” I was trained to go with my fellow actors. It made me much more spontaneous and much more myself. Think about somebody you really find entertaining. Are they willing to laugh at themselves? Do they interact with their audiences? In entertaining presentations the answers to both questions is probably “yes.”

Each type of presentation requires a special type of preparation. If you use these tips to focus your presentation you will give powerful presentations in all types of situations.

About the author

Richard Highsmith, [email protected], is President of Quality Team Building. He has twenty-five years experience training and coaching. He has built and sold two successful businesses. To learn more about becoming a team leader visit our website at [http://www.qualityteambuilding.com]