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In this post we’d like to think about the pre- of presentations. Sometimes, we’re so focused on the after (i.e. the end result, which is the presentation itself) that we may forget to think clearly and carefully about the before

Here are some basic pointers that we hope will be helpful.

i. Figure out the focus:

What is the objective of your presentation? You may think you already know the answer to this, but asking yourself the question and writing down the answer is an excellent way to reiterate and clarify, before going ahead.

ii. Make a draft of your content:

Whether this is in written notes or in a visualized form, this will help you shape the final presentation. Once you’ve broken it down into beginning, middle and end, keep co-relating the structure with your stated objective, so that you know you’re not going off-track.

iii. Create a pre-presentation document:

This is worth doing especially if you have a very brief window of time in which to make your presentation. Rather than trying to cram all the information in and rushing through your live presentation, you can consider creating what Nancy Duarte calls “slidedocs” – which act as pre-presentation material that can be circulated via email. Saving valuable time, providing valuable background information, and prepping the audience.

iv. Understand the audience:

Who is going to be the recipient of your presentation? How well-informed are they already on the subject you will be presenting on? The better informed you are about your intended target audience, the better you can pitch your presentation, neither overstating your case, nor talking down. This will also impact your use of jargon – which is fine for the “insider” who understands the language of your industry, but may need to be communicated in simpler-speak for those who don’t.

v. Be prepared for technical issues:

This is more to do with the “during” rather than the “before” phase of any presentation, but it’s crucial to be prepared for technical breakdowns or glitches. A back-up of your presentation is essential, as is a readiness to improvise. So that even if your laptop does not connect, a video doesn’t play, or the microphones don’t work, you can still deliver, calmly and professionally.