Earlier this spring, my team was on the talk circuit giving three presentations in a short time span. We hadn’t given any talks in the prior three years!
Here are some of the things we did to prepare.
Consider the audience and messages. Gearing up for the presentations we considered our audience and what messages we wanted to share. We also wanted to have strong stories that would illustrate the points we wanted to make.
Think visually. We had plenty of information to convey but we didn’t want our audience to suffer from “death by PowerPoint.” We started with a rough outline in Word and noted what images we would use.
As we built the presentations (each one was a different topic), we practiced multiple times. When we couldn’t remember what we wanted to say about a slide, we knew we had the wrong image. Sometimes, it wasn’t the image but rather that we had too much information or the wrong information.
Practice. Once the presentation was finished, we asked colleagues to be our audience, and we did a practice run. One time our timing or pacing was off. Another time, we realized one of the images didn’t convey what we really needed. Each time we tweaked and did one more practice.
We knew it was the final practice when we each felt great about our respective parts, and we were raring to deliver our presentation.
Streamline. Most of us keep several files open on their desktop. Before each presentation, we closed everything on the laptop we were using except the PowerPoint. We didn’t want emails popping up on the screen. We also checked that our computer was updated so we didn’t get the message that the computer was ready to restart.
Test the equipment. We arrived early to ensure we had all the power cords and connecting cables and that the images displayed properly. We also brought our own remote clicker so we wouldn’t be tethered. (We even had extra batteries.)
We know the presentations went well based on the questions we were asked and by the follow up inquiries we received.
Are you ready to present?