Once you have your presentation booked, and you’ve asked your contact person questions about logistics, room layout, and your audience, [see blog post] now you can begin really planning out your presentation. You want to start with your presentation talking points.
When thinking about how to develop your presentation you want to think in terms of setting goals. What do you want the audience to learn? It’s a fundamental question that most presenters skip and the audience walks away empty and frustrated.
The point of giving a presentation is to educate about something you know. Much like teachers in school, you must pinpoint what the audience already knows or begin from some basic starting point. For instance, I know that you know the answer to 2+2, so we can talk about addition, but I’m going to teach you multiplication. This is the mindset you must have when developing your presentation even if you are speaking to industry peers.
Talking points should cover the topic thoroughly and not go too in depth that only a mad scientist can understand it. Your talking points should also be in a logical order where the transitions from point to point are seamless.
Resist the urge to include everything you know about the topic. The results of this compulsion lead to bullet points and boredom from the audience. The human brain is only able to absorb small amounts of information at any given time and all points must be relevant and related.
A fun activity to determine your talking points is to grab index cards and list all the things you can talk about your topic, one idea on each card. Spread the cards out and eliminate the cards that are not really related and that are too easy or too advanced for your audience. Then move the cards around until you have a good sequence; this is your presentation outline. The same activity can be done on a single sheet of paper (I find it’s more fun with index cards), it’s possible to bullet out your talking points and scribble until it’s the way you want it.
The point of laying out all potential talking points out is to physically see that there is too much information to cover in a short period of time. You will likely need to whittle the amount of information to a maximum of 3 points that cover the topic while still not going too far in depth. I’m sure that sounds like an oxymoron, but I promise you it isn’t. You want to cover the topic so it’s thorough, but not explain it in advance detail that you need to hand out diplomas at the end. This is what baits questions from the audience and leads to the comfortable conversation that presenters look for. It is a “stick to the facts” kind of mentality.
Quick example of what I’m talking about: History documentaries give you enough information about an event so that you have an understanding of what happened. If each expert they interview tells you everything they know about the event, the documentary would last days, not an hour. You do not want to babble about small details that disinterest your audience.
Plan out your talking points, cover your topic, and allow the audience to ask questions for additional information are the three key things to remember when you are planning out your next presentation.
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