How to Deliver a Successful Presentation

9 questions to answer as you prepare

How can I deliver a successful presentation? What should I do first, before writing my speech?
Many people ask me these questions in the beginning stages of creating a presentation. There are a number of questions, as a coach, I ask long before we even consider writing the script.

1. Why you? Why were you asked to make a presentation? What makes you the better choice compared to others to give a speech on the conference’s/panel discussion’s subject? Why you?
Usually, the person was selected because of experiences…, personal, professional, or both…., that made that person one of interest to the organizer. Many people fail to note the importance of them being chosen. So, imagine why you were selected. Ask the organizers why. Ask your colleagues and friends why. This information will give you an idea of what perspectives they hope you will provide.

2. What is the theme of the conference/panel discussion? How does that theme connect to you? This sounds something like number 1, and it is also different, particularly if you are part of a panel discussion and the panel has a theme as an offshoot of the conference’s theme.

3. Who is your audience?
You must speak to the level of your listeners. A group of scientists will be different from business people, will be different from college students, will be different from high school students, will be different from retirees. You must craft your speech to your audience. Knowing your target audience can help you in determining your target message.

4. Who else is giving a speech? When are they presenting? What is their subject? How will this affect your presentation? Can you quote them?
Knowing other people on the panel can give you an idea of what to, and what not to talk about so as to present the best possible panel discussion.

5. What is the 1 message you want the audience to remember, after your presentation is over?
The audience will usually remember 1 message from you presentation, be it 5 minutes or 2 hours. They will remember just 1 message. So, what is that 1 message that is so important for your audience to remember? Why is it so important? What evidence can you offer that supports your idea of the importance of your 1 message? Your entire presentation will be based upon that 1 message.

6. How long is your allotted time? Time determines slides/videos/and use of other visuals. Time determines how much information and in what sequence.

7. When is your presentation? The best time to give a presentation is in the morning. The second best is immediately after lunch, before they get sleepy. The worst is about 1 hour after lunch when the body is getting ready for digestion to begin to absorb food. Blood flow increases to the digestive system and is reduced to the brain. Result? Sleep.

If you must give your speech after lunch, make the room cooler. It will keep the audience awake and might even help them to get more involved. Speaking of which, make sure you get the audience involved as much as you can. More on this in the next presentation blog.

8. Where are you giving your speech? Indoors? Outdoors? In a large auditorium? Small room? In a studio?
The place can determine your visual aids, your movement, whether you need a microphone or PA system.

9. How will you present your ideas? What kind of visual aids will you employ…, slides, pictures, graphs, diagrams, drawings, charts, videos? Can you use your computer? Or, must you simply load your PowerPoint or Keynote onto a USB or one of the host’s computers? Who will control your visual aids? Are you prepared to give the presentation WITHOUT any visual aids?? Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider well before you begin to even write your presentation. By answering these questions you are better prepared to start creating your speech.