This article might be useful for managers, designers, speakers, teachers and everyone who wants to be understood and heard. You will learn where to start, how to avoid frequent mistakes and create a nice presentation, even if you do it for the first time.
Good presentations help the audience understand the speaker. Bad ones are boring. Good presentations keep the audience interested. Bad presentations are messy: your eyes are overwhelmed with bright slides, your brain is trying to process the text and, at the same time, the speaker is mumbling something else entirely.
To make a good presentation, you don’t need to be able to draw, or use Photoshop, or spend hours building your slides. Good presentations are simply a combination of precise narration and clear visuals. In the first part of the guide, we’ll talk about preparing the content.
A good presentation starts with questions to yourself. The most important part can be done in notepad. First, you choose a topic, define a goal, distribute the arguments in the desired order. And only after the structure is done you can launch your presentation tool and start searching for illustrations.
Define your topic
It’s difficult to listen to anyone who jumps from one topic to another, which is why your presentation better stick to one topic — or you’ll end up with a long story about nothing much. Choose a topic that’s focused enough that you can offer a clear solution at the end. Then narrow it further, until your presentation can be summarised in no more than ten short paragraphs. The good topic helps to define the structure. Let's take a look at two topic/structure examples:
Define your goals
When your presentation has a clear goal, it helps define your approach and your content. It’s just like real life: when you know why you’re doing something, you do it right, even if it’s complicated.
Good presentations start with the question: how do I want to influence my audience’s behaviour? Maybe you want people to take more care of the environment, maybe you want them to chase the latest smartphone — it doesn’t matter what the goal is, as long as it’s specific.
- To give a good presentation
- To show off the team
- To get management on-site
- To convince management to upgrade to XXX software
- To explain how better tools would improve productivity
- To demonstrate the benefits of a particular software
Define your scenario
The purpose of your presentation is what you want to change in the minds of your audience. The scenario is the situation that leads to those changes.
Imagine you’re writing a story. You want your reader to be intrigued, so you come up with an interesting hero and you put him through various trials until he reaches a successful conclusion. It’s the basic structure of all fairy tales and film scripts — and the same applies to your presentation.
From the first slide, your audience must understand exactly what they’re about to learn. For that reason, it’s best to clearly indicate what’s about to happen on the cover slide or the first slide — avoid being overly creative here.
Give your audience a reason to stick around. Explain how they’ll benefit, or create some intrigue.
This is the main motivation for your presentation, what you want to teach your audience. Talk about the flipside of the coin: openly discussing the hurdles people might encounter in practice helps to build trust.
Talk about the flipside of the coin: openly discussing the hurdles people might encounter in practice helps to build trust.
Bad presentations end with “that’s all, folks!” — your audience should leave your presentation knowing exactly what to do next. You don’t necessarily need to give them a call to action. Instead, you can go over your conclusion, emphasise your main points or suggest where to find additional information.
After you're done with a detailed plan of the presentation, the chances are high that now you have the idea of how exactly your speech should be illustrated. That means you can finally switch to designing actual slides. Check the second part of the guide where you'll learn how to design nice and clean presentation slides avoiding frequent mistakes.
This text is based on ‘How to create a presentation’ article by Philip Brazgovsky