By Duncan Brodie
magine you have just been asked to give a highly complex presentation to the Board of Directors. One of the biggest mistakes you can make at this point is to start thinking about what you will say. Instead focus on planning.
So how might start the planning? Here is a simple but effective 7 step process.
Step 1: Develop Objectives
Before you do anything get clear on your objectives for the presentation. Possible objectives might be:
To inform the Board of the current financial position and future forecast
o To secure the funding for a new computer system
o To get buy-in to a new performance management system
o To secure support for an increase in staff numbers
Take the time to get clear on your objectives from the presentation.
Step 2: Assess Your Audience
Whenever you are assessing your audience, try to step into their shoes as the recipient of the presentation. Think about:
o The level of knowledge they have about the topic
o The level of resistance you are likely to encounter
o The perceptions or views they might have about you or your team
o Any insights that you have gained from others about the style or type of presentation they respond well to
Step 3: Brainstorm Ideas
A brainstorm is quite simply a dump of ideas on what you could cover. Remember the first step is to get all possible ideas down. It is not about evaluating at this stage. Keep brainstorming until you run dry on ideas.
Step 4: Identify Common Themes
It is likely that when brainstorming, you will have come up with similar things that you can group into an overall theme. For example, if it is a financial performance presentation you might have included budgeting, forecasting, treasury and working capital that you put under a theme called financial management.
Alternatively if it is a human resources presentation you might have included recruitment, selection, retention and personal development that you capture under a theme called talent management.
Step 5: Produce An Outline Structure
On one piece of paper sketch out the theme on each slide and the two or three messages you want to get across.
Step 6: Prepare The Presentation Materials
The key things to be aware of in preparing your presentation materials are:
o The appropriate number of slides- my rule of thumb is 5-7 maximum for a 10 minute presentation
o How much text to include- in my experience bullet points are best
o Use animation only if it adds something
o How you will deal with numbers- an excel spreadsheet is not appropriate so you need to think of alternatives if it is numbers based presentation
Step 7: Practise Practise Practise
Running through your presentation at least twice is an essential part of your planning. Don't neglect it as it will serve you well when it comes to the real thing
Finally, remember that most of us are not that enthusiastic about presenting and thorough planning can make all the difference.