The Power of Presentation Preparation
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My business partner and wife, Carrie Robinson, wrote a blog some time ago about the importance of preparing for a presentation. I came across it the other day and thought I would share it. As we go full speed into the second half of the year, you may be gearing up for new presentations and seminars and this has some great pointers and reminders.
Here is what Carrie had to say:
At Executive Success Partners, Andy Robinson is the main presentation guy. I am usually behind the scenes putting together the materials and helping make sure things run smoothly. I have sat through several of his Presentation Workshops (how to actually give a presentation). So, I knew I would put to test what I learned in Andy’s workshop when I was asked to do a presentation on LinkedIn to a woman’s group.
First, I was very excited to be asked to speak but then I thought…holy cow, I actually have to get up in front of 30 to 40 women and speak for 20 minutes. Relax, breathe and prepare I told myself. I knew for some reason this was going to be a life changing event for me.
One thing I realized… I would be speaking in my comfort zone. I was speaking on a topic that I live and breathe… LinkedIn. I knew I could do this. I also knew I could answer most any question that came my way and if I did not know an answer, I could certainly find it. I also knew that PREPARATION was the key to success.
Here are some of my takeaway tips on preparing for a presentation:
1. I thought about this presentation for a whole month in advance. In my mind I outlined the topic, what I would talk about, what I would wear, what the audience looked like and visualized it happening. I saw my audience enjoying the topic and having a great time.
2. I was so busy the week before the presentation, I thought I would never get it done. I took the weekend before and outlined my presentation on a presentation board.
– Theme – Topic – Stories – something the audience could relate to (I had a theme woven throughout the presentation) – Props, Humor, Questions, Engaging the Audience, My Attire – Intro – What we are going to cover and how we are going to cover it – Decided on 5 topics to cover under my subject with 3 bullet points each – Call to Action and Key Takeaways – Gather great visuals (had been doing this for a couple of weeks)
3. I ran my outline by Andy and he thought it sounded great so I started on the slides. Before I got too far, I talked to the other speakers in the presentation and we decided to share our presentations in PowerPoint. I use Key Note so I had to switch it over. It could have been a problem for me but since I knew in advance, I was OK. I actually found PowerPoint easier to use.
4. I had a central color theme for the slides and fantastic visuals to draw in the audience. Each slide was easy to read and each bullet one line. The bullets were for cue purposes to keep me on track. I had plenty to talk about directly to my audience.
5. Once the PowerPoint was put together, I went over it many times for typos, etc…
6. I practiced it to myself and directly to Andy and received great feedback on areas to improve.
7. I videotaped myself (ugh) and watched the whole thing with a critical eye. I realized I needed to smile more, move around more and use my hands a bit more. I did not say Um words and that is great. The videotaping is a wonderful confidence booster.
8. I visited the location and checked out the room and surroundings and met with the coordinator 3 days in advance.
9. I prepared my clothes, props and had everything ready to go well in advance.
10. I got to the presentation early to check the lay of the land and make sure my slides worked. When I got there the projector was set up from the wrong side. A speaker needs to stand on the right side of the slide show. My slides did not transition exactly as they had on my computer but that was OK. I could live with that.
11. Having checked out all the technical stuff, I was ready and relaxed. I was able to meet with the incoming guests and engage with them prior to the presentation. That felt good because it was as if I knew them already. I also planted a couple of good friends in the audience for support.
12. I had business cards and information for all the guests attending.
13. During the presentation, I followed all the rules of Andy’s Workshop.
– I engaged the audience by asking questions and getting them involved. – I told a couple of stories and had some humor (ice breakers). – I worked on making eye contact with everyone (that is tougher to do than you think). – I made sure my hands were out and welcoming and not stuck in. – I smiled, breathed in and out, took my time as much as I could and focused on relaxing. – I moved around as much as I could but it was difficult due to the setup of the projector. – When I saw people nodding their heads, smiling, thinking and making notes, I knew things were rocking and rolling. I was relaxed and thrilled to be there and felt great throughout the presentation.
14. Lastly, I created a way to follow-up with the participants as part of the call to action.
15. My Key Takeaways: Be who you are on stage, present with your personality and speak about something you know and are passionate about. It shines through!
Note: Maybe I was more relaxed than the average person since I dance on stage a good bit but public speaking is challenging. I usually whirl into a room with a veil and zills but this time I was standing and talking. However, I did wear a prop (Ruby Red Glitter Shoes to go with my Wizard of Oz Theme).
Author, Carrie Robinson, Executive Recruiter and Personal Branding Expert at Executive Success Partners
I hope you enjoyed Carrie’s personal experience. Good luck on your next presentation!
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