Preparing the presentation

Preparing the presentation

Now you understand this is the most important part of your best powerpoint presentation. That is the task to spend the most time on, not the PowerPoint preparation. For every slide, write down either an example, a story, a question or some humor. I call them your pillars (I prefer that term to bullet). I would even recommend to prepare at least two pillars per slide, even if you speak of one only. The pillars come in addition to your slides contents. They are part of your speech. They help to illustrate your explanation on the subject. You will realize soon that they are the most important part of your speech. Why ? you certainly know the subject that you develop in your presentation. But finding and memorizing examples, stories, questions to the audience or humor are the most difficult tasks. At least from my experience. But as they are part of your speech, they can always evolve! They are what makes your presentation entertaining.

The more you prepare your speech, the more confident you will be. Building your pillars is the most important task to start with after writing your main ideas. Work your PowerPoint slides design after. Also write down when you will be using the flipchart. You may sketch your flipchart explanation ie diagrams. The idea is not to sketch second by second your presentation but to build a map of your speech : simply find ideas and write key words. One of the next step will be to rehearse : standing and presenting loudly : develop your speech live on basis of your draft.

How to build a story ?

Call past experiences to develop stories to tell the audience. All audiences love stories. You will realize that many of your experiences can be adjusted to fit a specific subject. You will be more confident in delivering stories that you have experienced. Give precision on space and time : where and when it happened. Describe with details so that people can start visualizing, like at the theatre.

You should know by heart the start and the end of the presentation. The start must create the interest from the audience. You may start with a strong statement “Anyone can become a leader” and then give a story.

Rehearse by presenting loudly few times. Even if I have given many presentations, I always rehearse before the next presentation. I remind myself of the stories, jokes, examples that I shall give.

Know your audience

Who are they ? What can be their expectations ? How old are they ? What is the size of the audience ? Do they know each other ? Get to know your audience before meeting them by getting information in advance : name of the persons, job titles, companies. Google to get information on the companies participating into the presentation. That will help you to develop rapport.

One of the failure from speakers is that they know their subjects but they don’t know their audience. If a presentation fails, it is not the audience being not responsive, it is the speaker fault. Successful communication is a two way process. The best speakers are the one developing rapport with their audience.

That reminds me a story of one teacher at school. His students had decided to play with him. While the teacher was writing on the wall, the students dropped as a joke their books on the floor all together. The teacher just turned and then took one book from his desk. After saying the following to the student “sorry I was late”, he let his book drop to the floor. This classroom was at the end of the year the one achieving the highest scores in that school.

Prepare note cards

Note cards are useful. Don’t be shy to use them if you lack time memorizing the presentation, or if you will not be able to use or move to your computer to read your PowerPoint notes. The note cards should only show the structure and key words of your presentation. Of course you should never be reading. The audience will accept that you hold those note cards in your hands.

Prepare yourself mentally

Visualize yourself presenting with success, standing proudly in front of the audience, presenting clearly the contents, smiling, keeping eye contact will all the participants. It is the same approach like anyone who wants to be positive, putting away negative thoughts. “Our doubt are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt” William Shakespeare. The first principle of success is to know what you want. The second principal is to believe that you can succeed, the “Yes I can” attitude. Visualize yourself few days before the presentation. A good time for visualization is when you are getting asleep at night. Plan now on your agenda when you will rehearse, take the time to think of the presentation.

Plan some physical exercices just before presenting

Even experienced speakers do get stress before a presentation. Being stressed is natural. That does not mean that you should not take actions. Keep time to relax before the first participants arrive. Go for a 5 minute walk. Move your shoulders up and down and breathe deeply (the stress normally accumulates at the top of your back). Simply stretch your body as you normally like doing. It will take the tense away.