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Quick Guide to Preparing For Your Next Presentation

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It’s a commonly-known truth that not too many people have the natural ability—or even comfort—with public speaking or presenting. And that is okay! Even the best trainers and presenters out there have combatted nerves and have had to prep for hours and hours before a presentation.

You know what they say: practice makes perfect! From sports and music to test-taking and cooking—this adage is applicable across nearly all of life’s events. At The Bob Pike Group, we know that practice does indeed make perfect when it comes to prepping for a presentation of any type or size!

Why is it important to prepare ahead of time?

Being able to do your best to prepare for a presentation shows your audience that you cared to take the time to be able to clearly deliver the messaging and content they’re excited to absorb. A smooth presentation with clear objectives and delivery will surely result in better content retention and engagement.

Here’s a quick and handy list to guide you as you prepare for your next presentation. Not every tip will work for you, so pick and choose what best suits your training style. You won’t regret taking the time to prep. Oh, and always remember that participant-centered training is king!

Tips For Preparing For Your Next Presentation

  • Start with simple key talking points
    Don’t write out every single word you expect to say. Rather create a simple outline or bullet points that lay out the objectives you want your audience to retain. From your opener question ideas or story to the big picture themes you need to convey, it’s great to get this “first draft” out of the way. As you work this out, a natural and organized flow will begin to form.
  • Structure the presentation with the audience's skill set in mind
    You’re likely an expert on the topic you’re about to present, and it’s easy to be so close that you lose touch with what other people may not know. Think about who your audience is and what they are likely to know when you create your presentation. For instance, you won’t need to define basic industry terms to a group of skilled pros in a very specific field.
  • Avoid throwing in too many examples or facts
    Any person in your audience can search the Web for facts, statistics, and other useful knowledge. Your audience is there to hear your take on the subject matter, after all! While helpful to offer some facts and stats that support your course material, just be sure the pace and order of facts don’t overload your audience.
  • Write out the script
    Grab that first outline you’ve created and fill in the more complex details and supporting talking points that will resonate with the audience. Remember having to fill out index cards with a speech word-by-word back in your college public speaking course? This is that. Of course, you don’t need index cards, but do type or write out word for word what you want to say.
  • Find your speaking style
    Over time with enough practice, you can learn to speak and present in any style. But if time is tight, and you don’t have enough time to try out a new speaking style (i.e. enthusiastic vs. calm vs. entertaining) that best suits your personality and comfort level—you can still find a natural groove. Are you a humorous person in day-to-day life? Are you super enthusiastic? Or maybe you are mellow. Aim for what feels natural. Don’t feel pressured to prepare for a presentation with a speaking style that is out of your league if time is short.
  • Practice your script
    Not just once, twice, or even three times. Start by practicing your main points in small chunks to get it really engrained in your head. Practice as many times as it takes for you to confidently verbalize all your talking points. Do your best not to sound like a robot, or sound like you are reading directly from a script. As you practice this script over and over, it will all begin to sound natural as you fill it in with your own inflections and personality.
  • And practice it with distractions
    Turn on the TV or have some music on in the background as you practice. Chances are your final presentation won’t be in a room that is completely silent or without visual distractions. A great final presentation scenario would actually be with an audience that is so engaged, the buzz of the excitement will fill the air!
  • Don’t forget the props and handouts!
    Be sure to grab props ahead of time and practice how you’d incorporate them into your presentation. Props make your main points concrete, have an emotional impactive, work as great metaphors, can inject humor into a presentation … the list goes on! From playing cards and dice to Post-it pads and Mr. Sketch markers—having fun props that both you and your audience can use will ensure a memorable presentation.
  • Practice hand gestures and voice inflections
    A monotone, emotionless presenter isn’t going to leave an impression on any audience. Whether or not you’ll have visuals or a Power Point to support your presentation, using hand gestures—and making eye contact with your audience (and not at your notes the whole time)—is a great way to show your passion on the subject and engage your audience.

These are just a few tips trainers can use to prepare for their next presentation! As you prepare, stop and think of previous presentations you’ve attended that have left a lasting impact on your own learning. The impact it left on you is largely due to the preparation by the presenter ahead of time.

At The Bob Pike Group, we offer great courses that focus on presentation skills. Be sure to sign up for an upcoming workshop that will help you prepare for your next presentation while integrating Creative Training Techniques®. In our two-day Presentation Skills workshop, you will learn how to refine your own content into an engaging presentation you can deliver with poise back on the job!