How to prepare for a presentation

Our ability to communicate has an enormous impact on our lives, both professionally and personally but for many, one form of communication - presenting - fills us with fear. We become petrified at the very thought and can go to extreme lengths to avoid doing it.

If it’s true that we fear what we don’t understand, here we deconstruct presenting as a skill and offer ideas for taking action;

1. Mindset: It’s essential to see presenting as just another communication channel, nothing more. We communicate all the time, with friends in a social context and at work with colleagues in 1-to-1s, meetings and in larger groups so why get in a spin about presenting? The very word ‘presentation’ drives an illogical reaction so think of it simply as a ‘talk’

2. Energy: Consider the context and your material and ‘open’ with appropriate energy. Fail here and you won’t connect effectively with your audience. Generally speaking, higher energy levels always win out

3. Modulation: Think of your talk as a journey and you’ll realise that on any journey you need to keep things interesting so, get off the motorway onto some A-roads and take in some bends, the occasional hump-back bridge and even some traffic lights

4. Bullets: Make brief notes that map the various stages of your talk. Don’t ever memorise! You know your material so these notes are there only as a prompt should you momentarily lose you’re way. Lengthy notes are an absolute no-no - you won’t find your place and you'll be focused on them rather than on your audience

5. Evidence: Your audience wants to believe in you and what you’re saying but will be convinced only when they have evidence that backs it up. Whether it’s a story, some statistics, a testimonial, whatever - make sure it’s in there

6. Paint Pictures: The brain works in pictures not words, so make your stories bright, bold, colourful and ... ensure they have ‘you’ in them. Your personal anecdotes are what really make the difference in connecting you with your audience, so don’t hold back

7. Rehearse: Practice, practice, practice - especially your open, your close and your timings. There’s nothing worse than a talk that goes on too long or which doesn’t end on time

8. Butterflies: Don’t worry about the butterflies, it’s natural to be a little nervous and they’re evidence that you care. You need to harness their energy though to get them all flying in formation and, in the direction you want them to!

Need more help? Elsewhere on this website you’ll find a companion article, The 5 Most Common Presentation Anxieties And Tips For Overcoming Them