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Training Course Outlines
Assertive Communication Skills
Creating a great
How to Write a Presentation
If you will think about a speech or presentation as having three major components, writing out what you want to say will come much more easily. The three major components are the speaker, the message and the audience. While this may initially sound a little simplistic, it really will help you structure what you want to say if give ample consideration to each of these areas.
First, let's think about you, the speaker. What is your command of the subject? How much homework do you need to do in order to speak intelligently about the subject? Or, if you are a recognised expert, how much information really needs to go into this presentation? Do you have a grasp of what level of detail is appropriate? How are you on your feet? Do you need some coaching to deliver an excellent presentation?
Now let's consider your audience. If you are announcing a coming downsizing, for example, it will be fairly easy to guess what information your audience will want. They want to know how they will be impacted. They want to know when. They want to know if the business will close, if their jobs are at risk, if there is severance pay available for those laid off, and if outplacement services will be available. Not every "what's in it for me" set of questions is this obvious, however. If you are presenting about how your company's new performance management system works, you will have an extremely wide range of concerns and questions in your audience. There will be those who are wondering why the change is necessary. Others will wonder if this is a scheme to get rid of the department dead-wood. Still others wonder if the standards and ratings will be applied the same way in each department. You get the idea. Spend some time thinking about what your audience may want to know, and be ready to answer those questions. Many presenters call this "back pocket" information. In other words, there may not be slides included in the main body of the presentation to address each issue you think might come up. But you may have a couple of slides or comments prepared should the questions come up during the presentation.
The third component of your presentation has to do with the content of the presentation itself. Have you heard the term, "Executive Overview" or "Executive Briefing?" If you are explaining a project to the top leadership of the company, your presentation may be just 5 or 6 slides and a high-level explanation of what the project is, related costs, who is involved in it, why you are doing it, and what you expect the outcome to be. Conversely, the content of the presentation will be far more detailed if you are presenting to the project team who will actually work on the project. They will need to see detailed budget information, time-lines, stakeholders, resources, assignments, expectations, and many more details than were presented to the leadership of the company.
Now let's assume that you know the material, you have anticipated the needs of your audience as to topic knowledge, and you are clear on the level of detail you must include. Does this guarantee your presentation will be perfect? It does not. The truth is that if you do NOT consider the audience, the content, and your own ability to present the content, you are pretty much guaranteed not to meet your goals. If you do a good job dealing with your own abilities, the appropriate content, and the needs of your audience, there is still work to do! You still need to construct the presentation, practice it, run it by some colleagues, figure out what handouts are appropriate, familiarise yourself with the equipment you will be using, and then practice some more. But you are off to an excellent start with the foundation you have created by your thoughtful consideration of yourself, your audience, and your content. Good luck!