When you speak to an audience you want to get your message across with impact, and within your allotted time. You may further wish to inform and persuade. Here are your tools:
- The sound of your voice (sometimes amplified)
- Your presentation content
- Your content structure (how effectively your content is organised)
- Your topic knowledge (additional knowledge separate from your content)
- Your intellect
- Your eye contact and body language
- Your attire
- Your skill at answering questions
- Other visual elements such as props, lighting….and oh yes, visuals projected on a screen!
All these elements play a role in the success of your presentation in varying degrees. The success of the presentation is determined by the outcome. Will they do what you suggest? That outcome is determined by how your preparation time was spent. When it goes wrong, it’s usually because your preparation time was improperly balanced. Meaning exactly what?
Your delivery of your content should take up a big chunk of your preparation time. Getting your structure to flow smoothly is also important, and there is a “beginning” and “end” element to structure – devising it and then practicing to test if it works or not.
If you use visuals in the form of slides, these should be a minor element of your preparation. The approach should be to add extra time for this, not take it out of your allocated preparation time. The classic trap that results in loss of impact is over-reliance on visuals – particularly ones laden with text.
So next time you ask someone “How was my presentation?” you may know by their answer whether your emphasis during preparation was correctly weighted in the right areas.
In truth, successful presenters succeed because they understand how to prepare. The rest spend 90% or more of their time preparing their slide shows.