Preparing for Your Presentation

The guide starts by explaining What is a Presentation?
We define a presentation as a means of communication that can be adapted to various speaking situations, such as talking to a group, addressing a meeting or briefing a team. Effective presentations usually require careful thought and preparation—although this preparation need not take very long.
Preparation is the most important part of making a successful presentation. Our page on Preparing For A Presentation explains what information you need before you can really start to plan your presentation and decide what you are going to say. The most important aspects include the objective of the presentation, the subject, and the audience.
Irrespective of whether the occasion is formal or informal, you should always aim to give a clear, well-structured delivery. To do so, you need to organise your presentation material. You can either do this in your head, or use a technique like mind-mapping to help you identify links and good flow.
By the time you come to write your presentation, you should know exactly what you want to say and the order in which you want to say it. You may want to use one of the standard presentation structures, such as ‘What, Why, How?’. You will also find it helpful to consider how to tell your story most effectively, and to use stories in your presentation to illustrate points. There is more about this in our page on writing your presentation.

You also need to decide on your presentation method. Presentations range from the formal to the informal. Your choice of presentation method will depend on many factors, including the audience, the venue, the facilities, and your own preferences.

Visual aids can add another dimension to your presentation, helping to hold your audience’s attention, and also act as a reminder of what you wanted to say. However, they need handling with care. Only use visual aids if they are necessary to maintain interest and assist comprehension. If visual aids are not used well, they can ruin a presentation.

See Working with Visual Aids to avoid falling into the trap of the dreaded ‘Death by PowerPoint’.

A particular case of visual aids is the use of data in a presentation.

There are times when using data in a presentation can really help you to tell the story better. It is, however, important not to blind your audience with statistics. You also need to remember that many people find numbers difficult to understand. Our page on Presenting Data gives some hints and tips about using data effectively in a presentation situation.