How to prepare for a Presentation/Speech
A necessary evil in life to many people is having to prepare a presentation or speech. I know at high school I dreaded the time I had to spend standing up and talking in front of the class and as time has gone on I have NOT grown to love them.
Many people are often asked as part of their work to prepare a presentation to show other people what they have done. We all know the quote:
Just like this quote if you do amazing work but never show anyone is it actually amazing? This is why I both love and hate presenting. I though I would put together some tips and tricks I have found to help you put together a quality presentation. Some of these you may have already heard and others I have formed myself over time.
* Know your time and present accordingly*
If you are given a time slot, great, if not think about who you are talking to. How much do they actually need to know? How much of the detail can be left out. The rule of thumb I have always used is 1 Minute = 1 Slide. This has always worked for me in the past. However, in saying this some animations are allowed on the slide to emphasis the points made.
* Start with an outline *
Have one slide at the beginning telling the story of your presentation. The soft bun beginning everyone will understand, the dense meat in the middle and the soft bun again at the end so everyone leaves thinking they now know something amazing.
* Slide Presentation - Little Words *
This doesn't always work but in most cases try to reduce the number of words on a slide. If you cant read it in less than 10 seconds then how do you expect your audience to read it while you talk. Instead use pictures or flow charts as prompts.
*Preferably no paper notes - Instead make your slides complete *
No audience likes to feel ignored as you present to the piece of paper in front of you. To avoid this I like to make my slides very complete. By this I mean when I see a picture on the slide and there are 3 things I know I need to talk about make 3 prompts around the picture or animations. I like to use animations to help me keep on track and by animations I mean add more info by making it appear. Do not make your presentation silly by adding unnecessary animations.
For example, say you need to talk about a graph that confuses a lot of people start with just the graph its self and this will remind you to explain the axis what it is etc. Next, on a click, add an arrow, this will remind you to talk about the trend and what that means. Finally say add a circle, to point out an interesting point. (Ie this is clearly an outlyer)
This will make your slide flow and you won't forget to talk about each aspect.
* Pretend you can't point to the slide *
I see this a lot in large presentations which sometimes have two screens the presenter is having a hard time pointing out the interesting points. Add a small animation which highlights the point you want to make.
* Never flick back slides *
This is confusing and shows that you weren't prepared properly. If you want to mention the graph you had in the previous slide make it small and put it in the top corner.
* Practice *
The only way you are going to know that you don't need to flick between slides/ know you need to point at the board etc is to practice the presentation. If does not need to be that many times depending on the situation but no matter what you must practice at least twice!
* Talk your work up *
Having confidence in your work will make other confident in you. The "Fake it till you make it" moto. If there is a part you aren't sure about and can't leave it out say confidently it is still a work in progress and assure the audience it will be absolutely amazing when done.
* Statement Slides *
These work great! If you have one point to hammer home make it have its own slide. 1 sentence that you will read through and explain will make the audience remember it.
* Have Extra Slides *
Quite often I have my presentation and I have a strong feeling a specific question is going to come up from that one annoying attendee. A question you don't want to spend valuable time on in the presentation but you do have an answer too. In this case put an extra slide at the end of your presentation with that relevant information on so you to pull it "out of your back pocket". It shows that you are prepared and have thought about your presentation.
* No slides no worries *
In this case you need to make a story in your head of what you want to say. Be clear and practice. I dislike theses types of presentations because I find out exactly how bad my memory is. In this case a small bullet point list may help you. When you practice these type speeches never stop talking. If you forget what goes next, keep going because no doubt this will happen on the day and you need to be prepared for that mind blank.
* Deal with your nerves - Plan for them *
No matter how well I prepare I always get nervous for the important presentations. You need to learn to deal with your own nerves. Try going to the bathroom before hand and taking some deep breaths in the mirror. Don't drink too much coffee and have the gitters. Just try to remember it doesn't matter how well you do, it is not life or death. Putting pressure on yourself will only make them worse.
* Practice *
Finally, I know I have said this before but it is your friend. Put your hand up or suggest you do a presentation. The more small presentations you do the better you will get when it comes time to do that one you really want to succeed.
So that is all my advice for now. Let me know if you have tried any of these and how it worked out for you and feel free to give any advice I may have missed. Finally if you have any good stories on the times you failed , please do share!