Presentation Prep: Getting Started
Posted by Anni M.
Preparing for a presentation always takes longer than you think it will. You can’t anticipate re-writes or fact checking. There’s no way to know how long it will take to find the perfect images, graphs, and statistics. Once you have the whole presentation written, the slides prepared, and your note cards color-coded, you still have to practice. This may be the most time consuming step of all. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you’ll be panic-stricken the night before the presentation. You’ll arrive at the venue harried, tired, and unprepared. There is no such thing as giving yourself too much time to prepare, as long as you don’t spend it procrastinating. Every presentation you make is a representation of your professional abilities. It shows your co-workers, managers, and boss what you have to offer. Think of it as a showcase—a chance for you to demonstrate your value as a member of the team.
Having a strong thesis statement is perhaps the single most important element of a good presentation. Your thesis should encapsulate your message. Make sure it’s clear—just one or two short, succinct sentences. Your thesis should be so simple a child can understand it. This is the hook on which your entire presentation hangs. You should revisit it time and again, reinforcing it with supporting arguments and evidence as you go.
Business speak is full of buzzwords—those coined terms that sound so professional but that often say very little. Avoid these at all costs. Not only are they confusing and unnecessary, they’re lazy. Jargon is not designed to communicate deep, important ideas. It’s cute, like the “lol” of the business world. Avoid words and phrases like: ballpark, behind the eight ball, bait and switch, core competency, face time, and low-hanging fruit. They’re clichéd, boring, and will guarantee you a room full of glassy eyes.
It may be tempting to include extra information to flesh out your talk but beware—extra information won’t necessarily serve your message. Stick to the point and be ruthless about hammering it home. Extraneous information may be edifying but if your goal is to leave your attendees with a take-away message, extra info will just muddy the waters.
Keep Sentences Short
Hemingway wasn’t the only one who benefited from short, declarative sentences. Business people have been using them for years! The shorter and more direct you can be, the better. Big words are marvelous, but they’re not the best choice for communicating a message simply.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..