Flash news: The world is not actually split between good and bad presenters. It is more likely that there are people who go out of their way to organize their thoughts and there are those who just choose to not prepare and ramble. Time and again, we (whether you are a CEO or an entry-level assistant) should always strive to give a good presentation. But how should we really give a good presentation? Here are a few steps that will allow you to create a presentation framework and make you a strong communicator.
Step 1: The one-sentence overview. Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
Step 2: Explain the structure. Let your audience know exactly how many points they should listen for. Enumerating is an important detail because it helps them structure their note-taking, so be sure to sty a number. You are saying I am organized – therefore listen up.”
Step 3: Give them the headlines. Announce the big headlines you’re going to talk about. You never at people to struggle to follow what you’re saying or have to search for your key facts. When you give your audience clear headlines, you are practically writing their notes for them and increasing the chances that they will pay attention to what you are saying, as well as remember what you said. This is a good thing.
Step 4: Present each topic. You’re now ready to present your first topic. Cue your audience that you’re starting a topic. Then cover the topic. Then summarize what you just covered. Every topic you cover should follow the same pattern: cue, present summarize. The repetition at the beginning and end of each topic might seem unnecessary, but your audience will appreciate these organizing cues.
Step 5: Tell them what’s next. You want to keep reinforcing your structure throughout and direct people as you move from one topic to another. Not only does this help reengage a wandering listener, but it also builds a sense of momentum in your presentation. Two down, one to go. Don’t overlook the importance of letting people know how much longer the presentation is going to be. This helps people relax. They don’t have to worry about time and can focus instead on what you’re saying.
Step 6: The one-sentence conclusion. Remind your audience of what you’ve told them. It should only be one sentence. Open the floor for questions. You’re done.
Pro Tip: Skip the handouts.
When it comes to handouts during the presentation, I usually advise against them unless you have a very number-intensive presentation. The minute you give people something to look at, you no longer control their attention – or the flow of information.
If you must use handouts, it is essential that they are organized and easy to follow. Making sure that your words, actions, and handouts all say the same thing (in the same order) creates a powerful harmony in the listener’s experience of your presentation.