So you just found out you are scheduled to do a presentation. You picture yourself in front of a crowd ready to give your talk, and a wild range of emotions run through you. Excitement for the opportunity to share what you know. Butterflies in your stomach. Confidence that you know your subject well. And a touch of trepidation that sometimes spikes into outright terror at the thought of being the center of attention and wondering if you can really pull this off.

Well you can pull this off! With the right preparation and the acquisition of a few presentation skills, you can be poised, confident, and provide attendees with the information they require. This is the first of two blogs that will give you some tips and techniques for creating and delivering a captivating, engaging, and informative presentation.

The following is derived from the talk, “Presentation Skills” delivered by Andrew Patricio, founder of Bizlaunch.   Bizlaunch is a company that focuses on providing training for small businesses. Andrew Patricio has started seven businesses, authored two books, and is an internationally recognized small business expert who has delivered over 100 key note speeches all over the world. In today’s posting we will address tips and techniques for creating your presentation.

Who’s on first?” – The first step to a good presentation is knowing your audience. Are they peers? Students? Potential clients? Why are they attending? What do they want to learn (or re-learn)? Knowing your audience will help you craft your presentation to meet their style and their needs.

“Why am I here?” – Going in, you need to know the purpose for the presentation. Are you there to educate? Convince? Sell? It is important to know the purpose of the presentation so you build it towards meeting that goal.

“Give me the facts ma’am, just the facts.” – Research will be your next crucial step in building a great presentation. Learn all you can about your topic. If it is a controversial subject make sure you understand all sides of the subject.   Knowing as much as possible about your topic will make the question and answer session much easier!

“You had me at hello…” – Try to develop a catchy title for your presentation. You want to pique attention, make people want to come, have them curious about what you will be discussing. Have a title that addresses their pain points. Using numbers can be a good tip also, e.g., “3 Ways to Break Through the Noise at a Trade Show.”

“Two roads diverged in the wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by…” – To get where you want to go, you need a roadmap. Develop a good outline for your presentation. A whiteboard or a wall with post-it notes can be a great tool for organizing your thoughts so you cover your topic using a logical flow.   Another tip is to keep the title visible while working on the outline to help you stay focused on the goal of the presentation.

“Don’t sweat the ‘small stuff’” – Another key point is to put your focus on the major points you want to cover. You won’t need to memorize your whole presentation, but you will want to memorize the key points. Consider one major point per slide. Use supporting bullets to foster discussion, but be sure you do not just read the bullets!

“A picture paints a thousand words” – People have different learning styles, and a good presentation will cater to the diverse styles. Auditory learners will learn from your speech. If you have an opportunity for “hands on” type exercises, that will help kinetic learners. And for the visual learners, some good pictures can greatly bolster your presentation. Finding a picture that represents a point can make that point more memorable to your audience. And a good mix of text and pictures will break up your presentation and keep people engaged.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – Often when it comes time to give a presentation, you suddenly discover that your time has been cut short. The natural reaction would be to try to go fast to cover all your material in the shorter timeframe. However, you most likely will not properly emphasize your points and will leave the audience feeling cheated. As you prepare your presentation, think in advance of pieces that could be eliminated while still meeting your presentation goal. Organize so you can remove those sections if necessary and still have a logical flow. Thinking through this in advance will keep you confident and able to deliver a great presentation even when circumstances change beyond your control.

Taking time to plan and organize your presentation will ensure you are prepared for your audience, know why you are giving the presentation, are organized to meet your presentation goals, and can make adjustments if necessary on presentation day. In the next blog, we will discuss presentation tips to ensure you convey your message effectively!