When you start preparing a presentation, do you normally open a blank PowerPoint file and stare at it a while? Do you copy and paste slides from old presentations? Well, you’re not alone. A lot of people may do this, but starting to develop a presentation with PowerPoint is just plain wrong.
Instead, you should start by asking yourself these 6 questions:
1. What is my goal with this presentation?
Every presentation has a specific goal, and knowing exactly what it is enables all the individual elements of the presentation to work together as a whole toward that goal. Most initial sales presentations, rather than consummate the sale, aim to schedule a second meeting to go through details or a demo. Clearly, these are different goals and would require very different presentations to serve them effectively. It may sound obvious, but most people don’t spend time refining their objective.
2. What is my main message?
After determining what your goal is, you need to ask yourself: what is the main idea you want your audience to fully understand and remember? This message should be expressed by a slogan, a strong and impactful phrase that everybody in the audience will remember long after the presentation is over.
3. Who is my audience?
Now that you have a clear goal and a strong main message, it’s critical to know who will be your audience because then you can write a script tailored to the specific, unique features and needs of that audience. Try to understand their age range, studies, tastes, interests…. Obviously, for example, talking to a group of teenagers has far different requirements than talking to a group of senior managers. The type of story you write, the type of visual metaphor you create, and the type of speech (formal, informal) you use, will need to be geared to the specific orientation of the audience members. Try to identify their objections, and address them in your story.
4. What is my story for this audience?
We believe that every script should be a story. It’s been proven by various studies that the brain is more receptive to stories than to disconnected facts and figures. And since for every fact and figure there is a story, go back to the story of each and write it. For the specific storytelling techniques you should use to write a great presentation script and a great story – click here. But you can’t just write a good story, you have to write the best story for a given audience. A story that catches their attention from the first minute and addresses most of their questions and needs.
5. What information needs to be written on the slides?
After settling on a story and a script, it’s time to select the information that needs to go on the slides. Writing a lot on the slides is easy; what’s hard is selecting only the really relevant information for the slides – click here. Remember, also, to keep your slides as clean as possible and not write on the slides exactly what you’re saying in the speech. The slides should contain the important words and expressions you want to highlight in the story you’re telling. And if you use graphics and numbers, make sure they’re easy to read and understand without long explanations.
6. What visual metaphor illustrates my story?
One of the very important parts of a presentation is the visual. What visual metaphor will best illustrate my story? Start by choosing a big visual metaphor for the main message or slogan. You should then be able to decide on small visual metaphors to illustrate the slides. The point here is to make sure that each image you choose helps your audience to understand at a glance what is the point of each slide. To learn more about visual metaphors – click here.
Finally don’t forget to rehearse. Without rehearsing, all your other efforts will be vain. Rehearsal is essential to a great presentation performance and reaching the goals you defined early on. Steve Jobs used to rehearse for two days before every presentation. So save at time to rehearse before a presentation, and not only the day before; rehearse over several days. For this, there are many rehearsal techniques you can use –