The most important question a presenter should address is “Why am I presenting?” The answer has nothing to do with your status, your previous presentations or your knowledge and everything to do with the audience. Recognising this is central to delivering a great presentation. Why you are presenting is much more important than what you are presenting.
It is a privilege to be asked to present, make sure you always remember that. It is a reflection of your status, your style, your insight, your kudos and your contacts. None of these matter if your message has no resonance with the audience. What that resonance is, clearly is influenced by many of those factors but it is an essential question to specifically address in the preparation of a piece, “Why am I presenting?”
A textbook is a list of facts. A presentation listing facts will have little value. A presentation that inspires, drives change, raises questions, stimulates debate, challenges dogma, or evokes emotion has much more value than a list of facts. A good presenter needs to establish this early in the preparation of their piece as this alone will shape the work. A presentation with no “why” is just a list. And no one comes to hear a list being read out.
To determine the “why” the presenter must have a clear understanding of the audience and their needs. The same people at different times will have different needs and expecting to meet those needs with little understanding of the audience will render a previously good talk virtually useless. The recent SMACCDUB conference opening plenary session focused on the sad loss of an inspirational character Dr John Hinds. The speakers on stage in that session all recognised that need within the audience and met it. They understood the “why.” (Check out Scott Weingart- Kettlebells for the Brain and Victoria Brazil- So you think you are a resuscitationist) A great presentation understanding the “why” of the presentation and then delivers that for the audience.