You’ve probably heard it before, the key to successful presenting lies in the preparation. For most people, this means getting their slides and talk ready – and perhaps arriving on the day to check through their equipment.
But there is a way to make your preparation even better, so you can feel really confident that you are ready on the day.
It comes down to knowing the answers to a few quick questions that you ask each time you are giving a presentation, that you have ready as a written checklist.
One of the worst presentations I ever gave – when I completely bombed in front of the audience – was when I worked in PR years ago. I was asked to present our agency’s ideas for a high profile campaign for a large charity. I had met the director of fundraising a couple of weeks before and he invited me back to present our campaign.
I was young, inexperienced and although I felt competent doing my day job, I was a poor presenter. I didn’t ask any specific questions about the presentation, but instead returned to their offices a couple of weeks later with my proposal and desktop visuals to meet the client again… to be told by reception “please go through – they are all waiting for you in the conference room.”
I walked in to a room of around 35 expectant faces. My already frail confidence was sent into a tailspin as I walked to the front of the room, grinned feebly at the group, hoped they wouldn’t notice my face had turned deep tomato-red, and started with a shaky voice. It was without a doubt the worst presentation of my career because I wasn’t prepared for it.
Creating a written checklist that gives you confidence in your preparation, and can help avoid any unexpected surprises on the day. It also conveys to whoever has asked you to present that you have things covered.
The 3 key concerns to have on your checklist relate to:
- The audience profile (ie. who am I presenting to and why are they there? What is their likely interest and experience?). It is essential you know this before starting to prepare your content.
- Logistics for the day (timings, contact details, parking, running order, intros, room layout, soundchecks, a/v resources)
- What you need to prepare/by when (a briefing for your intro? Format of your slides? Handouts? Marketing materials? Q&A session? A/v support)
Just a few questions that will save you stress, worry and give you confidence that you are prepared.