Stop wondering and start planning...
Designing a successful presentation is all about planning. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It’s that simple! Think about the last presentation you delivered. Were you taken aback by any unexpected surprises – no LCD projector? A hostile audience? Less time than promised?
Plan for success
Good presentation skills training provides you with useful tools to help you quickly and confidently plan your presentation. In IWCC’s presentation skills workshops, we provide participants with a Six-Step process for getting ready to present. The first step in the process is “Analyze the Situation”.
The “Analyze the Situation” step covers 5 critical areas that every presenter would be wise to study – and it takes less time than you might think...
1. The sponsor (who asked you to deliver this presentation and why?)
2. The audience (who will be attending and what is their attitude?)
3. The mechanics (the room, equipment, etc.)
4. The timing (when, how long, chance of being cut short?)
5. The interactive expectations (formal/informal/flexibility?)
The thousands of presenters IWCC trains every year are most concerned about item #2 ... the audience. We all think about our audience, but do we always go deep enough to impact the success of our presentation?
Dig Deep to Avoid Surprises
Let’s investigate the audience category in detail so you can see what we mean by “dig deep”. Here are some of the questions we ask participants to answer about their audience:
-Who will attend your presentation?
- Other people from your organization - why?
- From another organization - why?
- What will their roles be – if any?
-How much do they already know about your topic?
- Do I need to go into much/some/no detail?
- Do I need to clear up misperceptions?
- Do I need to address uncertainties?
-What kind of information will help this group relate to my topic?
- What visuals might appeal to this group?
- What examples or analogies would help the topic come alive for this group?
- What stories can I tell that they would relate to?
-How diverse will your listeners be?
- Any areas of specialization among the group?
-Will any members of your audience be from other countries? Will English be their first language?
- How will you help them understand your message?
-What is their attitude likely to be and how will I address it?
-Will they be attending the presentation voluntarily? Or is it a “command performance”?
-What can you do in advance to ensure that your audience will support your point of view?
- Do you have any allies in the group that you can leverage?
- Can you create any allies before the presentation?
The other four items on IWCC’s checklist ask the same type of pertinent, dig-deep questions to help you get ready to present.
Increase Your Odds of Success
In our presentation skills workshops, most participants share with us that they sometimes use a mental checklist to plan their presentations. However, most admit they usually start developing their presentations by pulling PowerPoint slides together. By starting with slides, you have a plan for disaster.
Will a checklist like IWCC’s guarantee you success when you deliver your presentation? Of course not… nothing will! But, in-depth planning can sure increase your odds.
And, by the way, if you are presenting to Senior Management/Executives, knowing your audience is even more vital to your success. Presenting to this unique group has its own challenges. Let’s face it, when presenting to executives, the rules are different, the expectations are greater and the stakes are higher. So stop saying; “I wonder if” and “I wonder who” and “I hope they don’t ask”. Stop wondering - start planning.
Watch for our next BLOG in this series on July 29 ... “How will you know if your presentation was a success?”