Five Tips for Writing a Winning Presentation
By Sheri Jeavons
people are trying to write great content for their presentations,
they often become “stuck” and feel overwhelmed by the fact that they
have too much information for the time allotted. They often put off
writing their presentation, then scramble at the last minute to
throw something together or simply cram too much information into
their specified timeframe. During the delivery they end up rushing
and are unable to provide all the critical pieces of information.
familiar? If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone.
Many competent professionals struggle to create great presentation
content. Usually this happens when you’re not 100% sure of the goals
of the audience or you just have too much information to convey. As
a result, you may focus too much on your own agenda and not spend
enough time considering the audience’s agenda.
that what your audience wants and needs to know may be very
different from what you feel compelled to put into your
presentation. The audience will tune you out unless you give them
the key facts they find interesting and useful. In fact, most people
make a conscious decision whether to listen to you within the first
one to two minutes of your presentation. If you want to have
a room of active listeners who are eager to hear your message, use
the following tips to create compelling content that keeps your
listeners awake and engaged.
1: Be your audience: Once you have determined what you will
present, ask yourself, “What value does this information provide my
audience?” Since not everyone views your information the same way
you do, you need to approach the topic from your audience’s
perspective. Answer the question, “What’s in it for them?” after
each key point. For example, technical people often give the
details of the technical aspect of their knowledge. They state how
the process works and how they proved it. The truth is that most
audiences want to know why the process works and how it is going to
solve their problems and meet their goals. Consider the goals and
desired outcomes for your audience prior to putting your
presentation together. Once you have their goals in mind it will
make it easier for you to organize your information.
2: Grab your audience in the first two minutes: Begin every
presentation with a short introduction that gives an overview of
what you will be presenting. First, state the audience’s critical
goals you know they would like to achieve as it relates to your
information. Next, state the challenges/pain points you believe the
audience faces. Third, simply state the agenda topics you plan to
cover. Finally, highlight three to four value statements you will
provide as a result of this information. Paint a picture with your
words of how great their business or department would be if they
acted on your suggestions. Describe the happy workers, increased
profits, or satisfied customers that would result from your
information/recommendations. Your introduction is the overview and
should be presented in the first two minutes!
3: Less is more: When writing your presentation content,
remember the phrase, “Less is more.” Don’t put every detail into
your presentation. It is best to have 2 - 4 key agenda topics you
plan to cover. It’s okay to omit some information from your
presentation. Too much content can result in going off on a tangent
and running out of time. When you try to cram too much into a
presentation it usually ends up confusing your audience as they
struggle to determine the most important points.
information you omit is that important, the topic will come up
during your question and answer session. Prepare for potential
questions that might be asked and have those answers in the back of
your mind. Contrary to popular belief, giving too much information
because you want to appear knowledgeable, may overwhelm your
audience and cause them to shut down. When you keep your content
focused on 2 - 4 key agenda topics, you will actually get a higher
level of comprehension and buy-in from your listeners.
4: Repetition works: Remember the Winston Churchill
quote: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. And
then tell them what you just told them.” It is important to repeat
the value statements that you gave in your introduction throughout
your presentation. Now that you have the introduction completed, you
are ready to provide the support information for the body of the
talk. Start by restating the first agenda topic and provide all the
support information necessary for the audience to understand your
information. You will want to remind the audience why your
information or recommendations are good for them. Repetition helps
create enthusiasm and agreement for your ideas. In your conclusion,
repeat the agenda topics and the value statements, which you
highlighted throughout your presentation. End with your requested
5: Guidelines for amount of content: Once you have developed
your PowerPoint® slides (or your handouts) complete this
exercise. Review each slide and
estimate how much time in seconds or minutes it will take you to
convey that information. Write down the amount of time you have
estimated for each slide and add them up. Surprise! Most likely
you have just determined that you have too much information for the
time allotted. Most people will run long when they present.
these timeframe guidelines: 20 minute presentation, prepare content
for 15 minutes; 30 minute presentation, prepare content for 20
minutes; 45 minute presentation prepare content for 30 minutes.
Using these guidelines when developing your presentation will
dramatically increase your success in preparing the right amount of
content for the designated timeframe.
Better Content -- Better Results: The more you focus on your
audience’s perspective, the better your results. You’ll appear both
confident and competent, and will persuade people to agree with your
point of view. You’ll excite your listeners to take action and be
viewed as a reliable information source and solutions provider. Your
credibility will soar, enabling you to get the results you desire!
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