How to prepare for a Presentation
Preparing your PowerPoint presentation can be the most nerve-wracking part of the process. That’s because you’re still in a stage where you have absolutely nothing, and you’re supposed to create something from it. But as daunting as it sounds, starting from scratch is exciting and rewarding. That is if you know how to appreciate the beauty of an empty canvas.
We have narrowed down the process of learning how to prepare for a presentation into three distinct stages. If you follow them step-by-step, you’ll have all the basics for a strong foundation. And when the foundation is strong, you’ll see that the entire presentation writes itself.
How to set Up Your Information
In the beginning stages, your presentation is a blank. If you haven’t figured out which templates to use, it’s literally nothing more than scribbles on a piece of paper. But how to prepare for a presentation so that nothing gets past you? You want your presentation to be perfect, and to achieve that, you must be credible, knowledgeable about your audience and well-informed on the trends in PowerPoint storytelling.
Collect and Evaluate Sources
One of the most important steps in figuring out how to prepare your presentation is evaluating all the resources you intend to use. If you’re presenting to an audience of experts, there’s nothing more embarrassing than getting your facts wrong. In the beginning stages when you have nothing, only concern yourself with research. When you read a piece of data, look up the author and see what their experience in the subject is. Always double-check for page authority whenever you come across a reference you might use. And always check how recent the data is, especially if you’re working with a lot of statistics.
When working with studies you want to cite, always dig around to see if they’re peer-reviewed. If you can’t find the information, make sure to mention that fact when citing the study in your presentation. Even if you use sources you’re not 100% sure about, emphasize that the studies are not conclusive when laying them out. This will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders, and leave very little room for error.
Research Target Demographic
Knowing your audience is the key to understanding how to prepare for a presentation. Did you know that most successful marketers conduct target audience research before even coming up with their campaign? This is exactly what you should do, except with your presentation.
Think about your audience. Are you presenting in front of high-end executives? If so, you better start preparing your presentation around details. Or maybe you’re about to give a speech to interns just fresh out of college. Surely, these two wildly different demographics will require different approaches. So try to pin down the most important part of the audience and plan your presentation around it.
Watch Other Presenters
The best way to prepare for a presentation is to watch other presenters and take notes. But don’t just meander around looking for random speeches. Learn from the pros at SlideShare or TED. This is important because you need to follow the latest trends in PowerPoint presentations. From slide design to learning how to connect with your audience, the rules change all the time. This shouldn’t surprise you. As technology changes, so does what people want to consume in terms of content. And if you want to give an impactful speech, you better get up to speed.
How to Prepare Mentally
Once you’re done collecting resources and your presentation is finished, it’s time to practice delivery. Now, this might seem futile, since rehearsing in front of a mirror doesn’t exactly prepare you for everything. While you can learn your script by heart and repeat it to yourself, the main issue with delivery is still not addressed. The biggest trouble in learning how to prepare for a presentation is learning how to do it without the stress. So, read on for some helpful tips on how to mentally prepare for your PowerPoint presentation. That way, you can sweep your audience off their feet with your confidence alone.
Rehearse in Front of Friends
Sure, your friends aren’t exactly the same as the audience of strangers you’ll be giving a speech to. But it can be helpful to try a few different approaches to the way you present your data. So practice in front of your friends multiple times and ask for feedback. See what they liked, what they disliked, were they confused by some parts etc. This will not only give you a feel for engaging delivery but more confidence as well. When you know there are people who already heard your presentation beforehand, you’ll be less afraid of it being a total disaster.
Rehearse With Distractions
While your friends are great for going over some insecurities they still can’t fully prepare you. This is because each time you practice you do it out of the context of an actual speech. What does this mean? Well, it means that you can’t exactly replicate all the conditions of a public speech. Think about it: The biggest issue when it comes to delivery is stress. When you practice with friends, the stress is absent. When you practice in front of the mirror, it’s also not an issue. But once you get in front of a live audience, your conditions are different than the ones you’ve practiced in.
There’s also a chance that something won’t go according to the plan. When it comes to learning how to prepare for a presentation, you should always have this in mind. What if your notes stop working? Can the lights go off? And what if some of the tech goes dead on you? This adds a lot of extra stress, especially when it happens last minute like it usually does.
Now, you’ll never be able to replicate the exact conditions of a speech while you prepare the presentation. But what you can do is try to practice with some distractions in place. Make your friends talk over each-other, practice without notes, or put some loud music on. Whatever it is that distracts you the most. Try to remember your presentation in full detail in those conditions before you come out in front of an audience. This is a surefire way to radiate confidence during your delivery.
While outlining your presentation is an important part of setting up your info, it’s invaluable when it comes to confidence. Most successful presenters say they outline before writing their presentation. Sure, it’s because it gives you a better idea on how to plan your content. But most of those presenters also claim an outline impacts their confidence as well. This is because it makes a mental map of where which information is. That way, you remember it easily and navigate your slides better. Once you’re sure about the organization of all your data, you will be exuding more confidence than ever. If you want to know how to make a killer plan, you might like our tips on how to make a presentation outline.
No serious presenter climbs the podium without notes. Even if you know your presentation by heart, going slightly off topic to make a joke or tell an anecdote can make you forget what you were talking about and what comes next. But you should absolutely include stories and jokes. It’s one of the most important parts of creating an engaging PowerPoint presentation. That’s why you can use notes to help you navigate your presentation smoothly while still going off-course once in a while.
Luckily for you, learning how to add notes in PowerPoint is pretty simple. Just click on the Notes section located in the bottom of your screen. Once the Notes pane appears, you can start typing whichever information you’ll need. You can also add notes using the Notes Page view located in the Presentation Views section of the View tab.
How to Set the Room
The last stage in learning how to prepare for a presentation is setting and double-checking everything you’ll be using. ‘Setting the room’ is the part of the process that usually comes last, after everything else has been set up. Things like lighting, checking the equipment, making sure there’s enough room, deciding on design etc. Although it comes last, after the hard part of the work has been done, it’s equally important as the rest of the steps. Because even if you have all the data ready and all the confidence you need, things can still go amiss if you skip this crucial step in learning how to prepare for a presentation.
How to Pick a Perfect Template
It might surprise you that templates come this late in the game but it shouldn’t. The crucial thing in learning how to prepare for a presentation is choosing the optimal template for you. How do you do this? By doing all the groundwork and coming back to this choice. That being said, you can pick a placeholder template just to help you sort thing out. Just keep your template options open before you put that final full-stop to your presentation. Why? Because all the info you gather up until the point of delivery is invaluable for choosing the perfect template.
What is your core message? What about your audience? Is it more corporate and conservative? Because they’d be better off with a comprehensive template with basic colors and professional structure. Or maybe you’re speaking in front of a younger audience? In that case, throw out your basic color schemes and opt for something with a more vibrant palette. What about your research? Do you have to include a lot of visual data? In that case, seek out templates that fit that data best and allow for infographics and charts. You can find a huge selection of free high quality PowerPoint templates we’ve created at Templates by 24Slides.
Get to Know the Information Visually
Even if you’re not officially a visual learner, you still memorize information that way a lot of the time. Why? Because all humans are visual learners to some degree. No matter which category of learners you belong to, getting to know your info visually is a crucial step in learning how to prepare for a presentation.
First, find a way to visually communicate the information to yourself. As coo-coo as it sounds, we do it all the time, and visual input has its own language when communicating with our subconscious. Certain shapes, colors, sizes, patterns etc. affect your brain in different ways. They trigger different centers of emotion and cognition, depending on your associations. Tapping into this can not only help us with our presentations but with overall life. You can learn to create creative leaps, make new brain pathways, and memorize more easily. It’s because learning the unique language of our subconscious helps create new associations in learning.
So, accommodate the learning process to your unique self and break your own limits! Find out which colors, shapes, patterns remind you of something and use them in your preparation process. Make mental notes, maps, and outlines and try to draw them out. Use specific colors or line breaks in your notes to help you quickly find your next topic. And when you do that, you’ll be able to visually present the information to others as well.
Check All the Equipment
You’re in the final stages of learning how to prepare for a presentation. You’ve stressed over every single dot. You’ve practiced delivery in every Yoga position imaginable. You know your audience so well you can make each member a personal playlist. You’ve set the room so perfectly the acoustics would allow your voice to be heard over the sound of bombing in case war inconveniently broke out in the middle of your presentation. You’re literally prepared for a disaster. The next logical step is to do your best to evade it.
Double-check every piece of equipment that can suddenly ambush you. The check the ones that should be working perfectly, because those can play the dirtiest tricks. Go over your presentation in the room if you have access to it beforehand. Scroll through every single slide to see if all the graphics are working. Check for any incompatibility issues in all the software you’re using. Make sure there are enough seats for everyone and that they can hear you clearly. If there’s any noise coming from the hallways or through windows either close them or turn up the volume.
Now You Know How to Prepare for a Presentation
Now that you finally know how to prepare for a presentation, feel free to breathe a sigh of relief. Even though these tricks are simple, plenty of people aren’t aware of them or don’t know how to properly combine. By following every single step from this list, you’ll know how to prepare for a presentation so well it will write itself.
You might also find this interesting: How To Deliver A Persuasive Presentation