I have a problem... my poor time management for developing presentations is driving me crazy!
On one hand, I can have several weeks to prepare my presentation but I never know when or where to start.
On the other hand, my boss will ask me to prepare a presentation to be delivered the following morning and I put it off until the end of the day.
My preparation is little more than pulling together slides from previous decks, so I'm confused as to why I am freaking out so much! The one thing I do know is that no matter how much time I have, the resulting presentations don't seem to be working for my audience.
Help! How can I best prepare for my presentation?
Take a deep breath... and relax. This a common challenge encountered by millions every week. You are not alone!
The sad truth is that the pure volume of presentations created today (Microsoft estimate over 30 million A DAY!) means that it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking of them as 'tasks' rather than great opportunities to communicate.
So, where do you start? Well, as we've said many times, your audience is the most important stakeholder in any presentation. As such, whether you have an afternoon or a month to prepare for a presentation, it is imperative that you put them foremost in your mind. This will help you make the leap from thinking of a presentation as a 'task' and actually embracing the opportunity it really represents.
To get yourself in the right headspace (and thus dedicate the appropriate amount of time to the presentation), ask yourself some simple questions - why are your audience giving up their precious time to listen to you? What do you want them to do as a result of your presentation?
This will help you form the backbone of your presentation - your message. This then ensures a more powerful engagement with your audience and increasing the chances of all parties actually getting something from the whole presentation process. It's a win-win.
Once you start making these changes, you will see an improvement from your audience and ultimately they will begin to follow your intended call to action. This will help you see a direct relationship between careful (and timely!) planning of your presentation and great results.
In short, you and your audience are worth it (so ensure you put the time in!).
Best of luck!
The Eyeful Team x
Simon Morton: Probably the biggest enemy of presentation preparation is time, and that can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes you can have too little time, so you run around gathering as much information as you can do and you create what we call, a Frankenstein's monster of a presentation, which is a slide from here, a slide from there, and they’re pulled together. There's no cohesive message, there's no cohesive structure; it's a bit of a mess. There are a couple of tips that I can share in a second, around how to make the most out of that problem.
The other side of that challenge is when you've got too much time. A presentation becomes a task rather than an opportunity, and that's one thing that we truly try and battle here at Eyeful, is trying to make sure that people recognise the privilege of presenting and take it seriously, rather than put it aside and worry about it later.
If you've got a lot of time on your hands, I'd suggest that you spend a small part of every day leading up to that, thinking seriously about a few things. You've got to think about your audience and understand why they want to be there, why they are listening and what you want them to do as a result of the presentation. That will support the creation of a really strong message. If you haven't got a strong message in place, your presentation is going to be flaky.
And then finally, as you get nearer and nearer to the deadline, then you can start thinking about the visuals. There are lots of different options, but the more time you've got, the more time you have to put the investment in, really prepare in looking at the core parts of the presentation, which are: Audience, message and relevant content. The other stuff can wait.
When it comes to those last-minute panics of, "Ah, I need you to present something this afternoon," my strong recommendation would be, spend as much time as you can figuring out what you want your audience to remember at the end of the presentation. When blind panic kicks in, it's really easy just to throw lots of mud at the wall. The reality is, you'll just confuse your audience, and potentially the opportunity you had to convince them, goes out the window.
You can't create a great presentation in no time at all, but it'll be a hell of a lot more engaging and more relevant to your audience if you've thought about what you want them to take away in the first place.
If you need any more advice and pointers, check out of presentation training part of our website for further support.
Stay tuned for another presentation problem coming next week! If there is a specific problem that you are experiencing and you'd like a solution from Eyeful, just email your problem to firstname.lastname@example.org.