Present For Success


Five ways to pre-plan a successful presentation

“She always makes it look so easy!” Have you ever heard this phrase applied to a presenter? If so, rest assured, their “ease” has been bought at a price. Effective presentations begin long before the day of delivery. Here are five things you can do in advance, to ensure thatyour important presentation hits the mark:

1. Be sure you’re the right person for the job. Certain presentations should really be delivered by top management – such as information on disaster recovery, or talking to the media. On a personal level, if you do not believe in your message, don’t try to be its ambassador. You could do more harm than good.

2. Clarify your exact purpose and then design your content to achieve that purpose– and nothing else. Write down the purpose of your speech in one or two short sentences. What do you want to do, or to achieve? What should the audience know or believe once you’re done? You may have heard that phrase, “Just say a few words.” As an entrepreneur, you should banish such thinking from your repertoire. Every presentation has its distinct purpose, and each word you write should go toward meeting that goal. Anything else is superfluous. Keep it tight, and to the point.


3. Organise a proper introduction. “And our next speaker on the agenda will tell us who he is, and why he’s here…” This type of non-introduction is a dirty little trick that can rob you of credibility before you’ve begun. Write out your own brief introduction, and give it to the MC in advance. If there is no MC, ask a colleague to get everyone settled, and then provide you with a brief introduction. You can also provide an “outtro” with a subtle marketing message: “If you enjoyed her talk, don’t forget to buy her book, visit her website, go to her seminar. The details are as follows…”

4. Practice delivering your presentation out loud. There is a vast difference between the words used in a written script, and the natural sounds of spoken language. You need to become familiar with delivering your presentation. Reading through it silently is not enough. Use a mirror to watch your body language. Practice speaking it out loud while sitting in traffic. The most critical section to rehearse is your opening. A strong opening will put you at ease and set the tone for a convincing presentation.


5. Learn about the audience in advance. The best presenters speak to each audience “where they are at”. If you can learn just a little about your audience in advance (age, gender, career, level of education, ethnicity, etc.), you will be in a better position to target their interests.

It’s the mark of the true professional: If you want to dazzle them with magic, you must first prepare the show.


By Douglas Kruger (

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