How to “do” a presentation

Various people have asked me how to “do” a presentation. Here is an ordered list. Please follow the steps, in order and I think you’ll find the result illuminating and rewarding. There are lots of links to other posts that deal with the issues in a wee bit more detail. Have a look, share the ideas. #htdap

First, turn OFF your computer, get some scrap paper and a pen. Or some Post-It notes. Yes, turn off the computer.

I strongly suggest you write out, by hand, the answers to the following.

  1. Consider the audience– who are they and why they are in the auditorium for your presentation?
  2. With reference to your topic, where are the audience currently and where do you want them to be at the end of the presentation? BE SPECIFIC
  3. Write down in ONE sentence what change you want to see in your audience using specific action words. Do not simply say “learn more about”, “understand” or variations, write what you want to achieve.
  4. Write an elevator pitch for your whole story that will leave the audience asking, “tell me more?”
  5. Construct a storyline that details this journey. It should rise and fall; the arc of a story.
  6. Within this story consider mini stories that need resolution (sparklines) and will maintain interest. For longer presentations you will need a spark every seven minutes.

  7. Is there a final denoument that will be memorable?
  8. Consider a STAR moment (Something To Always Remember) that the audience can return to and link your message to. This may be physical, an interaction or a challenging statement. Build that into your story.
  9. WRITE out your story, step by step. Not word by word though. You should be able to see your story.
  10. Now consider which of these steps would benefit from illustration. NOT every single one but a summary image for a few of these steps. Maybe even NO image at all, a blank slide (the best slide in the world!)
  11. Start again and remove half of what you intend to say. Seriously. Less is more. You’ll just ignore this point but you’re wrong.
  12. Now, fire up your presentation software. If you have turned it on before now, go back to the beginning, you are doing this wrong. No, you are.
  13. Once you have decided the illustrations for your talk get rid of half of them. It’s illustrations, not a comic novel.You want to illustrate, not annotate.
  14. You now need to deliver this. You will need a stop watch and ideally an audience. Stand up and deliver this OUT LOUD.
  15. Unless you are 10% UNDER time, start again and remove HALF of what you intend to say.  NEVER think you will either do this on the day or “just go a bit quicker. You won’t. You MUST finish early in this setup, you WILL take longer on the day.
  16. Return to point 14 and try again. You will also notice bits that just didn’t seem right. Move them, improve them or remove them. The presentation is not complete until you have delivered it at least FIVE times
  17. By now your timing will have improved dramatically and you have a much better idea of the steps in your presentation. Turn off the presentation software and give your presentation, timed. No notes, no slides. THIS is what you want to say.
  18. I would strongly suggest you now re-do the whole thing. Step 17 has shown you the bits you really want.
  19. Now construct your handout. It is NOT your slides. It is a digital representation of knowledge that you want the audience to have access afterwards. It might include pdfs, images, audio, notes, links to web sites or even a url where all of this may be downloaded later.
  20. That’s construction, delivery is quite another matter.
  21. Share these ideas with folks who ask. Maybe share these ideas with folks who might need a wee bit of help.

    A quick link to this page is

    Or the QR code 


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