Let’s think about the very start of the process of putting together a presentation.
When somebody’s asked you to deliver a speech, either at a conference or even just in a meeting, the temptation is just to go straight to a blank piece of paper and asking yourself ‘what do I need to say?’
And you start putting content together.
Now, the starting point shouldn’t be ‘what do I want to say’ but what do I want to achieve? Another way to put this might be to think ‘what do I want my audience (whether that is four or four hundred) to do or think differently when I finish my presentation?’
This helps you to start to set some objectives for your presentation and these objectives are important. It’s a stage that so many people miss out, to the detriment of their presentation.
You need to think about what you actually want to achieve. This isn’t just about what you want to say, it’s not about your content, it’s actually what impact you want to have and what effect you want to have. What do you want people to change?
These objectives can come from two different angles.
First of all, you’re probably going to have professional objectives – you need to communicate this particular set of information; you need to ensure that people understand a particular process; you want to ensure that people go away and start spreading this news or that information.
So there are the things that you need to achieve actually in your job but I think you’re also going to have some objectives which are personal.
For example, in a meeting, your objective might be that you want to impress the boss.
Or if you’re giving a presentation as part of a job interview, clearly your objective is going to be to get the job!
Perhaps you want to establish yourself as a credible expert; you want to establish yourself as somebody who’s ready for promotion; it might be that you just want to boost your own profile.
So think about what your objectives are for any given presentation both professionally and personally and I would suggest you need write those down, because once you’ve got an idea of your objectives, as you start to prepare your content and you start to think about what you’re actually going to say, you can go back and look at those objectives and think, if I deliver this content as I’ve written it, will I meet my objectives, yes or no?
If no, you’ve got the opportunity to start doing some rewriting. If yes? Job done.
Like I said, it’s a step that a lot of people miss out, but I think it’s probably the fundamental step to delivering a great presentation, so set yourself some objectives right from the word go.
If you’re interested in opportunities to get your presentations critiqued in a constructive, safe space, contact me for details of the next cohort of Critique Club, my small group speaking mastermind group. It’s a six person group and runs for six months with a mix of coaching and opportunities to practice and receive feedback and critique on your presentations.