You’ve got clear on the objective of your presentation. You have a laser focused key message and you’ve brainstormed and structured content that is going to answer the question ‘What’s in it for me’? for your audience.
Now comes the more tedious part of your presentation preparation – deciding the WORDS you’re going to use to deliver your talk.
And to do that you need to write out a script.
Ok, ok, hold on! Before I get deluged with protesting comments, I’m not saying you’re going to read from this script when you give your presentation. But you DO need to put some focused effort into thinking about how best to communicate each of your points so your audience receive clear, coherent messages. And you are in a much better position to create those messages when you are sitting down, in a quiet space with pen and paper than when you’re in front of the audience on the day of your presentation.
D-day is for delivering the content you’ve already created, not for trying to think up content on the spot. The latter is extemely difficult when you’ve got 10 or 20 or 100 pairs of eyes all looking at you.
So, yes, my advice is always to write out a script which will form the basis of your tallk.
A tip – when you write out the content of your presentation, read and re-read it and VERY IMPORTANTLY read the words OUT LOUD; you will discover which words work and which ones don’t.
Actually, it is even better to first speak words out loud as a way of creating your content BEFORE you write them down. This way you’re creating a talk from talking and so the resultng content is likely to sound more natural and conversational.
People often resist this process of writing out their presentation. However it has several advantages:
- You will discover points and ideas that seemed valid in your head but when written down perhaps lack objectivity or coherence
- You will easily see if your points flow logically from one to another.
- You can brainstorm and then practice a large variety of linking (signposting) phrases. If you leave this until the day, you are likely to use just one or two signposting phrases which will sound very repetitive to your audience.
- You can print out the script and carry it around everywhere to look at whenever you have some spare minutes
- This script forms the basic text from which to edit down into usable notes on the day of your presentation
The last point in the list of advantages above is the next step in your preparation.
Once you’ve read out your script a few times and as the date of your talk draws nearer, you need to reduce the words in your text to just key words. These key words are designed to remind you what to say on the day so that you DON’T read from a script.
In my case, I reduce my script to key words on cards and then I use these cards to rehearse my presentation with.
I usually reduce the first set of key words a second or third time onto a new cards as I get to know my content better with each rehearsal.
Preparing a presentation in this way might sound like a lot of work but creating and delivering a great presentation does require work.
If you have an important presentation to give I highly recommnend using this approach. It will ensure you maximise your chances of communicating what you wish to communicate as professionally and effectively as possible.