Five Questions When Preparing Your Next Presentation

I love TED Talks. So often they can be inspirational, educational and entertaining – all at the same time!

However, just because you’re delivering a short presentation for a group of decision-makers in your organization - not an audience of thousands of people at TED - it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still put thought and preparation into your presentations.

The most successful presenters spend as much as 20-30 minutes preparing for each minute of speaking time. So if you are giving a 10-minute lunchtime speech at your local Chamber of Commerce, don’t be surprised if you end up spending four or five hours preparing!

Here are five questions to help you focus your presentation so that your audience will get the most from what you have to say.

  • Who am I speaking to? Who is your audience and what do they know about your topic? Once you know those two things, you can gauge the sophistication level of your presentation accordingly.
  • Why am I speaking in the first place? Are you informing them about the challenges certain types of businesses face or are you persuading them to take action? Knowing your purpose will help focus your presentation.
  • How should I present all of my ideas? You have more than one way to express yourself.  Use your voice, slides, video, and Q&A; varying the delivery will keep the audience engaged.
  • How do I organize [X] minutes worth of ideas? Make every point a headline!
    • Five Ways to Attract the Best People for Your Next Job Opening
    • Start to Finish: How to Find Your Next Amazing Hire
    • How to Compete Against Google for Top Talent

Each of these headlines organizes information about how to find great people – just differently. One takes a “tips” approach; another takes a very chronological process approach; the last approaches the information from a “problem-solution” format.

  • How do I interact with the audience to really involve them in what I’m saying? Make sure that you’re presenting information that the audience is interested in (think about their perspective, not just yours).  Give them opportunities engage by (for example) raising their hands or asking questions.

These are just five of the 10 questions we recommend considering when organizing your thoughts for a presentation. To learn all 10 questions, check out our book, Develop and Deliver Effective Presentations.

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