Monday, January 5, 2009

Presentation Planning

Writen by Paul Archer

This article is a collection of best practice tips to help you prepare for a winning presentation. And it doesn't start with clicking on PowerPoint! Come on hands up. Who's guilty of going to PowerPoint immediately you need to do a presentation? If so then my template might be able to save you time preparing and help you to put together a first class presentation that will get fantastic results.


A house is built on firm foundations and can last for centuries. A business presentation, in fact any presentation, will fall down without the right foundations and these foundations are the objectives. They give purpose and direction for your speech and allow you to measure success. In today's world, measuring all activity is a must. You've probably heard of SMART objectives, which is a very useful acronym on how to structure any business objective but what I want you to do is to switch the focus. Away from you and to your audience, who are actually more important than you. It's not what you want to achieve…it's what the audience want to get out of listening to you talk.

My experience has shown that business presentation audiences want to do one of three things. As a result of listening to you, they want to be able to do something, or understand something, or agree to do something.

Naturally your talk might want to help them do a few of these objectives but you do have to be very careful in not trying to achieve too much.

Audience and Time

The audience is king, and should be put up there on the throne. How much time to we spend researching our audience:

Who they are?

Why are they attending?

What time of day is it going to be?

What knowledge do they already have?

What attitudes and beliefs do they have?

How many of them are there?

What's their background


Often overlooked in our preparation, is the actual venue you'll be speaking at. Now it might be the company's board room which you've used dozens of times before but it might be a local hotel for example, which you don't know about. The golden rule is to own the venue yourself, not nip out and buy it, but become very close to it. If your presentation is important enough, visit the venue to assess where the screen will be, where you'll sit, the air conditioning, windows, the microphone etc.

Here's a tip if you have to present to an audience around a traditional board room table. You know the type – enormous and too heavy to even contemplate moving and often highly polished. Big comfy chairs too. And the worst thing is that the screen is right at the front of the table where you are supposed to present from. The trick here is to remove the chairs in the bottom left hand part of the table and make the whole corner your delivery zone. The screen can stay where it is and because you've moved some chairs where your delivery corner is, the whole audience can see you and the screen.


At long last, I hear you shout, the actual content of the presentation. The most common mistake that we all do is put too much content into our presentations. We can bombard our audience with just too much to take in one swallow. Have a look at these stats which confirm how much of your content audiences recall:

100% - is what you plan to say in your presentation

80% - is what you remember to say

50% - is what your audience hears

30% - is what your audience remembers

15% - is what they recall 3 hours later

5% - is what the audience recalls 3 days later

Copy what the professionals do. And that is to limit the number of points you want to make. Aristotle once said that presentations are easy – you make your point and then back it up. Use arguments, stats, stories, anecdotes, participation, quotes, graphics, pictures. It's what the pro's do. They make a point and then support it.


The definition of a visual aid is that it is something for the audience to look at that helps them get the message. Once you designed the content and you know what you want to do, then is the time to consider any additional visual aids that might help. Challenge yourself not to use slides all the time. Visuals can be created in people's heads with a well crafted story, a metaphor, an interaction exercise, a physical prop, demonstrations and so on. Don't forget you…you are the most important visual aid for the audience to see and trust and believe, not a piece of machinery that displays stuff on a screen.

Thorough preparation will equal thorough success. It's a bit of a cliché now but so true.

Paul is an international speaker, trainer, author and coach based in the UK. He specialises in rapport selling and rapport sales management and can ignite his audiences large or small. Rapport selling gets more results. Get your Ebook Presentation Excellence at and sign up to our regular EZine of sales and management tips.

No comments: