The Complete Checklist for Preparing for a Presentation

A presenter seeks to deliver a noteworthy message to an audience. While the objective of a presentation is relatively straightforward, most people, who are handed an assignment to present, quickly realize that prepping for this mission is often a challenging and nerve-racking experience.

Here’s the good news! There are proven strategies to help presenters overcome the unproductive mindsets of anxiety and trepidation. Read on to learn how.

A properly prepared presenter integrates four basic checklist concepts:

  • The Presenter
  • The Message
  • The Audience, and
  • The Presentation

A Prepared Presenter

The essence of the message delivered by a presenter is best heard, and remembered, if a well-prepared presenter conveys it. Successful presenters create captivating openings to attract their audience’s attention.

Quickly grabbing the audience’s attention is critical because the attention span of the average person is 8 seconds. Begin by posing a question to capture the audience’s attention – people participate when asked their opinion.  

An engaging presenter maintains unwavering eye contact with the audience. This subtle gesture encourages the audience to immerse themselves in the presentation. When preparing for a presentation, think about potential questions that may be asked of you. Proactive anticipation prepares the presenter to answer confidently.

Effective presenters take advantage of the art of storytelling. Storytelling is a practical form of communication in a world that delivers a barrage of distractions at any given moment. Stories are remarkable teaching platforms as they have the ability to touch listeners deeply. Overall, people relate to (and remember) stories much easier than hard, cold facts. However, statistics remain critical when supporting the presentation’s central message. Use them strategically. 

The Key Message

The purpose of a presentation is to deliver a Key Message using a memorable approach. Ultimately, a compelling narrative inspires action from those listening.

Begin by framing the presentation’s key message – i.e. the ‘take-away.’ Develop a concise message, because a crisp idea is easier to remember than a long-winded one. Be careful though; don’t obscure your message when attempting to reduce its length. 

The story and its core message should be multi-faceted, entertaining and integrate an appropriate amount of images, statistics and simple charts to keep the audience engaged. 

Related: How to Give an Office Presentation Like a Pro

The Audience

Who hasn’t endured a lackluster, unbearable presentation? A bored audience becomes a distracted audience – one that will inevitably stop listening.

 Focus on who the audience is:

  • Do they have any knowledge regarding your topic or message?
  • Are there any portions of the message that might create resistance?
  • Can you strategically engage the audience during the presentation?

With or without intent, a presenter creates a relationship (good or bad) with each audience member. Presenters lose their audience when they disregard their participation and keep the presentation one-sided. 

The Presentation

While images and sound effects are perfect media accompaniments, a presenter should always be the pivotal piece of the presentation. Appealing images should enhance a presentation. Avoid visuals that require extensive reading.

A presenter’s visual aides are essential; however, they should not outperform the presentation. To avoid this misstep, consider applying venture capitalist-Guy Kawasaki’s “10/20/30 Rule Of PowerPoint”:

The rule states that a presentation:

  • Should include 10 slides/concepts or less; give the audience a chance to remember the concepts and message
  • Should conclude in 20 minutes or less; leave time for a discussion
  • Should use a 30 point font size or larger; less is more

Read also: How to Make Your Next Presentation Memorable and Actionable

Be prepared and be yourself. Know your audience when preparing for a presentation.

When the presentation has ended, distribute impressive handouts printed on Double A paper to summarize your message and remind each audience member to stay focused on the desired action.