Designing the perfect presentation
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Designing the perfect presentation

Your manager has just asked you to design a presentation next week. As a first line manager, you knew this day was coming and you feel sick with nerves. Do not panic! In this blog, we will explore how to design the perfect presentation!

Set the Context

Find out who your audience is and what they know. What do they expect from the presentation? Will it be formal or informal?
Find out how long the presentation needs to be and if you are taking questions check that whether this is within your allocated time, or after it.

If you are presenting as part of a larger event i.e. a conference, find out who else is speaking, and what about, so that you can get the right context for your presentation.
Find out where you will be presenting – the room size, audience size, and what equipment will be available e.g. flipchart, overhead projector (OHP), video, microphone.
Consider what resources you have available to help with the content of your presentation, e.g. reports/research and what is the best method to present them.

Set the Aim and Messages

Set the overall purpose (Aim) of your presentation e.g. giving results of a piece of research. Decide on the key messages or ideas you want to get across. It is important to remember that people can only absorb a certain amount of information before they either become confused or tired. However, it is just as important to maintain their interest too!

Write your presentation

Have a beginning – introduce yourself and what you will be talking to them about. This is your opportunity to gain the audience’s attention, so use your knowledge of who they are to come up with a link between the purpose of your presentation and something that interests them.

For the main part of your presentation, introduce each one of your messages in turn – making sure the order is logical. Introduce the idea, and then provide further information to expand the point. Use supporting evidence. End each message by reinforcing it and then moving on to the next one.

Avoid jargon unless you are absolutely sure that all of your audience will know what you are talking about! If you need to use ‘technical’ terms, remember to explain what these mean.

Use visual means to present supporting information, however, make sure it is relevant.

End with a conclusion – Repeat your aim and messages. Summarise your presentation and remind your audience of how it links to them, as this is what they’ll be taking away.

Prepare any visual aids and decide how you will remind yourself of what to say, e.g. cue cards.

Remember that your presentation needs to come across as fresh to your audience, not something that you’ve learnt ‘parrot fashion’. And, if you do try to learn it off by heart, you could panic if you forget the precise words to use or lose your way in lots of written sheets.

Practise your presentation to make sure you are comfortable with its flow, the timing and your use of the visual aids. If possible, practise with an audience who will give you constructive feedback about your content and delivery. After the practise, make any alterations you have identified. Then practise again! Remember the five P’s – Proper Practice Prevents Poor Performance! Now you know you’re fully prepared.

On the day, don’t be too worried about your nerves. They will help you to deliver the presentation as they’ll give you adrenaline. Even experienced presenters and performers get nervous – it’s all part of doing a good job.

Take a few deep breaths before you begin. Be confident in your delivery – you know it well by now – and your messages will definitely get through.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article and would like to find out more, watch out for my upcoming blog on how to deliver an effective presentation. Or better still, why not join us at our presentation skills workshop in July?

For more information contact Marie O’Donnell at or 0161  6694179

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