How to prepare for a Presentation/Speech

in #business4 years ago (edited)

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:

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

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!


I went to a tech conference in London the other month to present for SolarCoin. Another member of the community had booked the event but had to do another presentation so I was covering; when I got there I was on the main stage, which was about 10 meters wide with three huge video screens behind it, professional soundstage, lighting rigs and full-on TV cameras. Id estimate there was about 400 people in the audience, I had to present this other guys slides, gulp!
I think it went ok, I was intimidated but I remembered one rule a presentation expert gave me; bigger crowds are easier!
That seems weird, but think about presenting to 5 or 10 people, your audience aren't going to be too scared to speak up, ask difficult questions or even be critical. In a big crowd, most people aren't going to poke their heads up too much, they have the same performance anxiety you do :)

Waw! That is a large audience. I have found the same thing and it always depends who I present to also. For example if I present to my research group I have no worries. But as soon its someone who I value their opinion I suddenly get stage fright.

I remind myself even professional actors get stage fright! Presenting isnt natural for me, but I have learned to deal with it and even enjoy it to some extent when Im passionate about the material.

This is a great post. I followed much of the instructions here while I was in nursing school. I still use the "fake it til you make it" technique!! So far I haven't killed anyone! (Fingers crossed).

Thank you very much! Haha I think this is actually a thing Impostor syndrome where you have a "persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud"" . I don't think anyone actually does 'make it'!

I've never heard of that!!! I'm gonna look it up! I felt that way for two full years working in the ICU straight out of school. I felt like someone would ask me a simple question at any moment and they would find out that I don't know anything about nursing. It was kinda horrible. Especially with mean type-A bully nurses that wanted to expose me as a fraud. I'm so glad I got through that.

Kudos to you! Knowing that everyone else is just as scared to be 'found out' as you are actually brings a lot of comfort. Seniors in any field are just better at hiding it.

Great post! I think you highlight some pretty important points when it comes to public speaking. The first one being Practice. Like the old adage says "practice makes perfect". The more you repeat something, the more you gain experience with it, and the more you become comfortable with it. This will allow you to react better to your audience. Also know the details of your presentation.... When are you presenting? ..... Who are you presenting to? ..... How long are you presenting for? ..... What are you presenting? All of these questions have a direct impact on how you form your presentation. Knowing your audience goes a long way to crafting a successful public speaking presentation!

I have been involved in both stage acting, and public speaking. The second has always been the more intimidating of the two!

Thanks! And thanks for your advice, some great questions. Know your audience is also absolutely key, but in addition to that assume that who you are talking to are tided and haven't had their coffee for the morning yet. It is better for everyone to understand and think the presentation is a little slow than to pass over the heads of everyone.

Nice post.I already follow you .follow and upvote everyone @shahaalam

It's bad etiquette to beg for follows and votes. You will find this out but I just thought I'd let you know sooner rather than later. Good luck!!

His bio is hilarious:


Hi @Me-shell!

I have not done any presentations lately, latest was in early school and I remember this with memory problem and that it was horrible... :)

These seams like good tips, I can recognizes some tips from acting or making monolog on stage, and I guess its not so different. Thank you for helping me see this and for puting up this grate list.

Best of wishes!