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When designing an interesting and informative presentation, you should consider the following factors.





Consider your audience.  Who will it comprise?  Why are they attending?  What do they hope to gain from the presentation?  What is their level of prior knowledge of your topic?  How big an audience is it? (That can make a difference to the "tone" of the presentation.)







Remind yourself of the factors that affect effective verbal communication:

  • Audible

  • Clear & intelligible

  • Appropriate level of vocabulary and grammar.

  • Maintain eye-contact

  • Positive body language

  • Establish "rapport" with your audience

  • Respond to audience feedback





Establish how long the presentation should last (there may be constraints outside your control); tell your audience how long your presentation will be (and whether there will be opportunity for questions); then stick to time!  Write timings in your notes so that you know you are on track (and make adjustments if you are not).


Your audience will feel more at ease if you explain in advance the basic structure of your presentation - so that they can "keep track" of how far along you are.  If you break a long presentation into distinct shorter sections, it will help to retain audience interest.






I was once offered this wise advice about the basic structure of a presentation:

  • "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em."

  • "Tell 'em."

  • "Tell 'em what you just told 'em."

Obviously, what you decide to include in the main part of your presentation is paramount.  It is usually wise to break the main ("tell 'em") part into sections.






It is important that you "know your stuff" (an audience appreciates an "expert").  However, do not try to tell them everything you know.  Select what is appropriate and relevant and will be of interest.  Your audience will appreciate something that they are able to use or apply.


Start with something that will "grab" your audience: a story - a question - a problem - something inspiring.

Give them something to think about.


It is not usually a good idea to repeat yourself - but it may be wise to remind your audience of your main point (especially if it was related to a question you set out to answer or a problem you set out to solve).






If you are interested and excited about your topic, that enthusiasm will convey to your audience.


Think about using:

  • Stories

  • Anecdotes

  • Examples

  • "Tease" questions.

  • Visual material

  • Actual objects





How will you accommodate the range of their "preferred processing modes" (VAK)?

  • Visual processors will appreciate: photographs, pictures, diagrams, graphs, charts, maps, cartoons.

  • Auditory processors will appreciate: sound-clips, quotations, "sound-bites", repetition of key words and phrases.

  • Kinaesthetic processors will appreciate: opportunity to handle real objects, opportunity to move around.

How will you accommodate their preferred "learning style"?

  • Activists will appreciate: a "good opening", involvement.

  • Pragmatists will appreciate: problems to solve, practical application.

  • Theorists will appreciate: lots of detail, opportunity to ask questions.

  • Reflectors will appreciate: something "deep" to think about.





If you have chosen your topic well, you will not need to "memorise" what you are going to say.  The presentation is merely an opportunity to share what you know.


It is not usually a good idea to read from a script - although some presenters draw confidence from knowing that they have a script that they can "fall back on".  If you do use a script it is a good idea to highlight section headings in colour - and key words in a different colour.  This will enable you to find your place easily if you do develop the confidence to depart from the script.


Having a series of (numbered) "prompt cards" can be useful.  Each card could contain a heading or key word - together with the main points that relate to that heading.  Presenters are able to glance at the card headings to remind them of the structure of their presentation - and the details are also readily to hand.







Except in certain circumstances, you are not obliged to provide handouts for an audience; indeed, they may be a distraction.  Too many presenters give out too many pieces of paper!  Ask yourself whether they will be useful for the audience.  Consider whether you distribute handouts etc. at the beginning (if they will help the audience to "keep track" as you present - or if they contain useful information not easily conveyed verbally).  You could make available a synopsis of your presentation for audience members to collect afterwards if they choose to.  Alternatively, you could arrange to e-mail notes to those who express an interest.






If you are "unaccustomed to public speaking", it is a good idea to practice (aloud) in order to check your timing.  But do not over-rehearse!  (You will lose something of the freshness that makes your topic interesting.)






Too many people (subconsciously) view their audience as "the enemy".  Usually, the audience is "on your side" and wants you to do well.  It is likely that you know something that they want to know - so take heart from this and enjoy the experience together.  





Inform your audience at the beginning if you are prepared to accept questions.  It is usually better to leave these until the end (unless you are an experienced and confident presenter) - although a mid-presentation question-break (or even several) can be a good idea.  Set a limit on the amount of time allowed for questions. (An audience can lose interest if the questions are not particularly relevant to their interests.)  Do not try to answer questions that you do not know answers to - be honest about your limitations.  Do not be disappointed if no-one asks questions.  (If you have explained your topic well there will be no need.)






There is a temptation afterwards to feel "relieved that it's over" - but you should take the opportunity to engage with the audience.  You can use this opportunity to get useful, informal feedback.