A Presentation Primer – Part One


I’m presenting at a conference at the end of the month.  I know I’ll be using a slideshow as an aid.  The hardest part of course, is getting started.  I’m very particular on using slide shows during presentations and I want to make sure that it contains the right level of content for the audience.  Over the next few weeks, I will continue to write on the progress of my preparation and hopefully, you will find it helpful.

For the upcoming presentation, I had a number of questions for myself that I had to answer to get into a presentation frame of mind.

  • Why am I presenting?  Seriously, ask yourself this.  There must be reason.

    I was invited to speak as a subject matter expert on a particular topic, and I said yes.  I believe not only would it be great to have it on the resume, but also to get myself into the conference speaker circuit.

  • What am I presenting?  Think about the content.

A case study of integrating a specialized practice in the project management space.

  • Who am I presenting to?   Find out about the audience because the structure of the presentation has to be on message.  A presentation to a busy executive is going to be much different to an entry-level person, or at a conference.

The academic crowd, graduate students earning their Master and PhD degrees, industry professionals, as well as college professors.  They may be particularly heavy on academic research, heavy focus on management, technology, decision sciences, supply chain, and much more.  The conference administration team provided the different number of program tracks.  Looks like I am in the Management Information Systems program track.   These are very knowledgeable people, but they may not be knowledgeable in the subject matter I will be presenting, I need to find the right balance of information giving and storytelling.

  • What’s the story?  This is the hard part.  It’s not easy to tell a story, but look at the content that needs to be presented and think of real life examples or personal experiences that will help the message be communicated better.  If there’s no story to tell, focus on the sequence and flow of the presentation.

It’s a case study, so I will be walking the audience down the path of how it all go started, what happened, conclusion, and next steps.

  • Where am I presenting?  The location and environment of the presentation is important because you’ll need the right tools and have a good idea on how to design the slideshow, should you choose to use one.  Giving a presentation in someone’s office is much different than giving it in front of a crowd of hundreds in a conference hall.

At a hotel, in one of the ballrooms.  I went to the hotel website and found the floor plan, along with the capacity for each meeting space.  1200 square-feet, 140 people in a theater seating configuration.

  • When am I presenting?  The amount of time you are given to prepare the presentation will have an effect on the quality of the presentation.  By knowing when the presentation is, it will be easier to plan what’s required for preparation.

In three weeks!  Which means I’ll have to complete a draft in a week, then have it reviewed.  The presentation is scheduled in the afternoon after lunch.

  • How am I presenting?  Think about the information that needs to be presented and if a slideshow is required to give the audience additional detail.  Do you need a projector? Do you need a microphone?  Is it an Internet video conference?  Should you wear pants?

I’ll be standing in front of the room.  I will be using a slideshow.  A projector will be provided, but I am not sure if I have to bring my own laptop.

With an idea of what I need to prepare my presentation, I open up a new slide show.  And then I just stare at the blank, white workspace.  Soon, thoughts start to appear in my head and I just start typing things up on a slide.  There isn’t an order to the things I type up, sometimes the information doesn’t even make too much sense.  Sometimes I will just keep adding slides and type up questions that I need to cover in the slide.  I add slides, delete slides, it’s a trial and error process.  Eventually, it starts to come together through the bits and pieces.  I work on this for days and days, if I get a new idea or thought when i’m not near the computer, I write it down, or email it to myself with the smart phone.  Once I get a good draft of the content going, I keep going over the slide show over and over again, making changes, flushing out the content, thinking about the types of graphics I want to use, and then on the look and feel.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

One thought on “A Presentation Primer – Part One”

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