How to Prepare for a Presentation in 11 Steps

Preparing a presentation can feel daunting if you haven’t done it before. Not only are you expected to be good at public speaking but this isn’t just an exercise – there’s a goal in a presentation that you must achieve. Whether this is your first presentation or not, you may need advice on how to prepare, what to expect, and how to make yours absolutely spectacular!

Here are eleven steps on how to prepare for a presentation:

1. Practice your presentation delivery

When discussing how to prepare for a presentation, we can’t discount the importance of practicing. Too many people spend hours creating a presentation and then so little time practising.

Practice, practice, practice. This will make you more confident all-around, allow you to fine-tune things, and will add to your credibility. You need to be prepared and stay organized. Use visual aids, along with a variety of presentation folders and supplies, to help you be as prepared as possible.

2. Prepare for the audience

If you know your audience – or even better, consider yourself a part of the audience – you can deliver your presentation probably quite well without you even knowing it.

When you know who you’ll be speaking to, it can help with any humour or cultural references you intend to use, influence how to pack in your message, and how you talk. Depending on their background, values, and interests, an audience is coming in with an expectation. Deliver on it.

3. Be a human

When preparing for a presentation, there’s a lot of ways to do it in terms of improvisation, memorization, using cue cards, or reading off text. Most important though, don’t forget to be a human.

If it appears rehearsed, stiff, or if you come across like you don’t want to be there, a presentation’s not going to connect. So be a human, have fun with it, and be loose!

4. Prepare an intro and conclusion

Start building the content of your presentation from the middle. You don’t need an intro, conclusion, or even a narrative to start here.

The closer you get to forming your full presentation, pause things and work on your intro. It should instantly catch a listener’s attention. Be bold! Work on your conclusion. It should summarize your presentation points and leave something lasting in the audience member’s mind.

5. Dress in-tune with your audience

Giving a presentation, you’ve got to command the room. If it’s a professional presentation, professional dress should be expected. Dress for success, right?

You can’t show up in baggy sweatpants and a greasy stained shirt, and expect to have a great presentation. Even if the contents of what you’re saying are spot on, if you don’t dress the part, few will actually be listening.

6. How can you make your presentation most interesting to the audience?

See a salesperson tasked with giving the same presentation again and again to prospects. For high-performing sales people, no two presentations are ever the same.

This isn’t theater. You reading your presentation line by line is boring. Adapt it to the people you’re speaking to. If it doesn’t interest them from a visual or delivery perspective, there’s no way they’ll get the full message you’re trying to communicate.

7. Attention-capturing energy

As you’re giving your presentation, keep in mind you have to connect to every person sitting in the room. The more people there, the more you want to have energy and movement included. For example, in an auditorium, people in the last row may see a presentation as dull and boring with someone barely moving on stage.

Be energetic. Think of yourself as a sort of actor who is fighting against distractions and who needs to keep the audience’s attention.

8. What is the objective?

Like we said, presentations aren’t just an exercise. They have an objective. What’s yours? If a presentation isn’t appropriate to the objective, make some changes to it. You want to keep it interesting and exciting but not at the expense of going off-topic.

9. Don’t go too basic or too advanced

You only have a set amount of time to give your presentation. Comb through every detail. Anything that doesn’t need to be there, eliminate it. To present convincingly, you want to constantly be illustrating and supporting what you’re saying.

Simply by changing the type of information being received – such as numbers and data, statements and facts, quotes from experts, personal experiences, and vivid images – you keep an audience member’s attention. You’ll never be boring if you keep an attendee in tune with what you’re saying.

10. Don’t steer away from emotion

Authenticity in a presentation can transcend the act and really give it a meaning. Even if you aren’t the most creative person, emotion counts. Tell a story.

Connect it to your daily life or the lives of your audience. If you focus on real life experiences and emotions, you have a better chance at achieving your objective.

11. Is there any way to make the presentation original?

You want people to remember your presentation – for the right reasons – after it’s done. Any activity or thing you can do yourself to make it interesting, original, unique and memorable, consider including a few of these moments in the scope of your presentation.

Of course, they shouldn’t distract from the message being delivered. This can be a tricky balance to maintain. Those that are able to make it happen though, the rewards speak for themselves.