Presentation Skills: Post Mortem
There are many ways in which we can prepare ourselves more effectively when looking to make a presentation. Clearly, one major area is the content of the message we intend to give, which may need several hours of work to ensure that the material is relevant, well-structured and interesting to the intended audience. This is never a simple task or one that you want to do at the last minute. However, it is not only the content of a presentation that needs our attention. What is often neglected is how rather than what we intend to present. This includes several factors such as the venue we select, the time we allow, the slides or overheads we intend to use, any models or graphics we want to share, and even the pace and style of delivery we adopt. Each of these factors needs to be considered in the context of your particular goals for the presentation and what will constitute success in terms of your talk. By crafting a presentation “outcome statement”, we can quickly crystallize our thinking and then use this as a guide to what to prepare and how.
A presentation preview involves considering the likely effectiveness of your material ahead of offering it in a “live” situation. This preview can be carried out by yourself or in consultation with other people, but in both cases the content needs to be focused firmly on your particular audience and your estimates about their knowledge of the topic in question. For example, it may be that your audience is highly familiar with the general subject area of your presentation, and will therefore want to be challenged or given something new or different to think about. On the other hand, an audience may know little or nothing about your topic and may consequently require a lot more contextual information and basic explanations of terms. The point is that audience “knowledge” about and “interest” in a given topic is what should drive your presentation strategy, and ultimately help you to organize the flow of what you will say.
With the needs of your audience foremost in your mind, you can now start to craft the actual presentation content you intend to deliver at a detailed level. For some people, this “crafting” process is relatively straightforward, and they can either write their ideas down on a piece of paper sequentially or start typing words into presentation software such as PowerPoint. However, for others, different organizational techniques may be more appealing, including several computer-based software assistance and support programs. Whatever method you use, a written outline should be produced for every presentation.
The featured video clip is drawn from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder Presentation Skills Video Vignette Set.