One of the most feared tasks in business today, is to give a presentation on behalf of your company. Added to the innate fear of public speaking is the added pressure of the knowledge that your organization will be judged by the standard of your presentation.

And yet, even with this knowledge, many will simply attack the task with more enthusiasm than experience! I have even heard a manager tell his unsuspecting victim that ‘It’s easy – nothing to it!’ and off he went with never a care in the world.

The poor chap took him at his word and consequently the presentation he did give was best forgotten and pushed into the pit of despondency – for the truth is that any presentation given in the business field needs careful consideration and plentiful preparation!

There is a lot of information we need before we even consider how we go about the presentation itself. We need to know the answers to some simple questions –

1. What is this presentation for?

2. Who am I giving it to?

3. How many will be there?

4. What time do I have?

All these questions need to be answered before any work is done on the presentation itself.

First – what is this presentation being given for? What do we want to achieve at the end of it? Many people blithely take their equipment and dash off with never a thought in their head about what they want to achieve. But we need to know precisely what the aim is or we cannot measure if the presentation has been successful.

Knowing what we want the outcome to be before we start on our preparation means that each step will be aimed at achieving that; and what we say and how we say it will be decided by what that outcome is.

Second – who am I giving it to? The organization, its purpose and its culture will also affect the way in which we structure our information as well as how we deliver it. Some activities, by their very nature are structured and analytical – these will like to have the nuts and bolts up front. Only then can we pass onto the benefits and outcomes.

Others like to see the outcomes first, they like to know what the product does, before they need to know what the product is.

We need to know who we are talking to and present our information to coincide with their personal and professional preferences.

Next – How many will there be? Important to know so that we can select the appropriate method of presentation. Some people will just go straight to the PowerPoint never giving anything else even a passing consideration – and yet, each type of visual aid has its benefits and problems, and PowerPoint may not always be the best choice.

Knowing the size of the group and the location of the meeting will help us make the best choice of a visual aid to achieve our hoped for result

And finally – How much time do I have to give my presentation? One of the easiest ways to put a client off side! CEO’s and senior executives are busy people and if they have given you twenty minutes out of their day they will not thank you if you take forty five.

If you know how much time you have you can carefully prepare your information to fit into that time slot, and if you are wise you will ensure that you take less time than you are given to allow for those inevitable questions that will arise – especially if you have piqued their interest,

Bringing your presentation in on time may mean that you have to select your points very carefully, and if there is more information that may be required, you give it to them in handouts or brochures – or even ask for another meeting if they seem interested in what you have to say.

And we haven’t even sat down at the computer to prepare our material yet – but we now have a really good understanding of what we need to do to achieve the desired results required by our organization.

But we are off to a good start and we should have minimized the problems associated with giving presentations.

Michele @ Trischel

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