As a public speaking coach I'm
often asked to help people with their presentations. It's certainly a labor of
love to create a presentation that's going to impress an audience.
Or is it not a labor of love for you because you don't like giving presentations?
Whichever it is I'm going to help you to make your next presentation that much
better with my formula for putting one together.
Step 1. Start with an agenda or outline for the presentation. To do this you
need to know exactly where you're going to go each step of the way with the
talk. Problem is you might not know yet. Well, you need to figure it out
because without a clear outline you're likely to take much longer to create the
presentation, and worse, you might lack cohesiveness from beginning to end. I
find that once I'm done with this it's much easier to create the presentation
since I'm essentially connecting the dots with content.
Once you're done with your agenda, print it and keep it in front of you as you
create your presentation.
Step 2. Have one of your older presentations to borrow from. There are usually
certain slides like the title page, Ground Rules, Agenda, and About the
Presenter that can be updated and used in a new presentation. This saves some
time. There may also be certain slides in an older presentation that have a
unique layout or embedded graphics I'd like to use. That also saves time.
Step 3. Know about how many slides you'll have to work with. My typical
presentation is 75 minutes long. I've found that I can comfortably do about a
slide every 3-4 minutes. That means somewhere in the area of 20 – 24 slides. I
know that if I go much over that number I'll have to rush my content or will go
way over. I don't like to see that when I'm in the audience so I seek to avoid
it with my talks. Be ruthless about staying within your slide count. It will
force you to eject fluffy slides and keep the best you have to offer.
Step 4. Start building your presentation at least 3 days in advance. It may be
all right to pack the night before a trip, but you absolutely want to avoid
building a presentation the day before you have to deliver it. Odds are you
won't come up with your best content this way, AND, you won't have time to
This step is so very important. It allows your mind to essentially work on the
content in between times sitting down at the PC. I find that my mind goes in to
serious contemplation, idea generation, and data gathering mode in the last 3
days before delivery.
Step 5. Just about clear your calendar the day before. Although you started 3
days in advance, it's very unlikely you're done. So, give yourself plenty of
time the day before and you will have time to refine it a few times making it
really good. Plus you'll have that valuable rehearsal time, which will polish
Of course, this isn't always possible, but do the best you can to have most of
the prior day free. You'll thank yourself each time you do it.
Step 6. Have a good tool for help in building slides. I like to use images of
web pages fairly often and my tool of choice for grabbing such imagery and
converting it to a simple to insert jpeg is Snagit. It's very easy to
use and works like a charm. I wouldn't want to build a presentation without it.
Step 7. Once you're done go through each slide with a very keen eye looking for
typos, bad alignment, fonts too large or small, URLS that aren't hotlinks, and
so forth. I almost always find little things to fix when I go back through a
presentation. You probably will, too.
Step 8. Rehearse and make final edits. Of course, rehearsing gives you
confidence when you actually present the content. However, it also alerts you
to awkwardness in the content. You thought it was good, but when you actually
tried to elaborate on what's written on the slide you stumbled. Or, you thought
this slide flowed well in to the next one, but it doesn't once you speak to it.
You will make changes during the rehearsal and that's a good thing.
Now you should be done and sitting on a very good presentation. Go give it! And let me know how it went. If you have other steps that you use when putting together a presentation, leave a comment so we can all benefit from hearing it.
If you'd like help with you next presentation, get in touch and we'll work on it together. Learn more on my website about this service.