A guide to successful presentation prep

I’ve been working in the financial services industry for over 15 years now and had the luxury of sitting on both sides of the fence – client and agency side. When working with new clients I try as far as possible to do my homework before presenting to them, whether it be over a cup of coffee or in front of an audience. I thought I’d share with you not only the process I go through during the preparation process but also some tips and pointers I’ve seen used.

My own approach is adopted from a presentation style developed by James Caplin called by GOER model.

Goal – Take time to understand what you and your audience exactly want to achieve from your presentation. If at all possible talk to them and find out what their objectives and motivations are. Even consider sounding out a few ideas. Judging from their reaction, you will quickly establish whether or not you are taking the correct tack.

Outline – Make a list around everything you could ever want to talk about around the topic in question. If necessary, ensure you go away and research the area thoroughly first. Ensure you have a sound understanding of the area. Even a great idea can be severely undermined by a few well placed questions that you can’t answer succinctly. Use these initial thoughts to put together an outline, paying attention to the amount of time you have available to you. Its important to address all the key areas, or at least touch on them in the time you have available. My advice is to be utterly ruthless in this area. You will inevitably posess more knowledge than you could possibly talk about so don’t try and cover it all; there will always be other opportunities.

Elaborate – Refine your outline from your ruthlessly thinned list and then get creative. Give yourself time to brainstorm about what your key points should be and how you could work them into the outline. Use personal examples and stories to articulate key points. The more individual your presentation, the more chance you have of it being memorable.

Refine – If you think you are heading for a vast number of slides, not is the time to take out your red pen. Remembering the slides are there for you to talk around, not to read from or act as a crutch to your poor presentation style. Go through a few times to refine your presentation so that everything in there deserves to be.

Lastly and most importantly, if you talk about anything related to your audience, ensure you get your facts straight. The quickest way to ruin your presentation is to show a lack of understanding or comprehension around their products or capabilities. Even small things like ensuring you are referring to the correct website for their division can make a huge difference from a credibility perspective.

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