A presentation is introducing a new concept, idea or even person, to an audience who may not have known this information before.  Sound straightforward right? So why do people dread doing presentations?

Well probably because they fear being judged.  And why do they fear being judged? Probably because they have themselves been in the audience of numerous deadly boring presentations. 

Leaving aside the “how” though – let’s look at what is involved in a presentation.  

Imagine you have a new project that you need to tell your team about.  You could do it on a one to one basis, but that’s not the most efficient use of time.  There may be questions that come up that all the team would benefit from hearing. And so you decide to get them all together and present the new project to them. 

How do you structure your presentation? 

At a  very basic level you can follow a 3 part process.  

Part 1.  Introduce your concept.  

Here is where you set the purpose and the ground rules of what comes next.  You let your team what you are going to be talking about, why it is important, and what’s in it for them.  You also might want to set the outcome and the logistics (no fire alarms planned / coffee break at X time / we will be done by X time / questions at the end please ). 

Remember – we are not talking about the “How” you put the information across, at this point.  There are interesting and boring ways of doing it. The important thing is that by the end of the ‘introduction’ the audience – in this case your team – understand what they are doing there. 

Part 2. The information

This is the bulk of the presentation.  The information will include everything that they need to know and WHY they need to know it.  The important part here is to make sure you have their buy in. This is not just an information giving exercise – if it was you could have just emailed them.  This is where you need to understand your team, and what they – individually and collectively – need to hear.  

Some people might need all the detail and others might just need the headlines, so there is a balance to be wrought between those 2 extremes.  Perhaps there needs to be a more detailed handout, but the presentation itself is more about the bigger picture.  

And if you know your team well, then you will know what their motivations and drivers are.  The information in the presentation needs to address their needs, as well as the customers and the companies.  It’s all very well saying, the company needs this project to go well, its an important project / client for the company.  

But, so what?  What does it mean to the people delivering the project? Is it high profile and therefore good for their career (for the ambitious)?  Will it result in a nice bonus (for the money motivated)? Does it mean job security (for those who want stability)?.

Part 3 – The Conclusion

At the end of the presentation the most important thing is the result.  Ideally you will have achieved the result you set out to achieve. It is important that you also set some follow up.  What do you want everyone to do after the presentation and how will you know if they have done it. This is also the time you can answer any outstanding questions.  

Possibly the most important thing to remember when putting together any presentation is that it is not for YOU.  It is for your audience, and if you keep them in mind at all times, your presentation is more likely to achieve the result you want.  

We will be talking a lot about presentations in the run up to Christmas, as New Year often prompts new opportunities – or even new jobs!  Meanwhile if you have a presentation to do at work, and you need some urgent help – email me

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