Create a great presentation by doing some planning before building your slides. What do you want your audience to leave knowing and what might you provide to them (not just a printout of your slides) to help them recall all of the great information you presented?
Planning your presentation
When you are ready to begin developing a presentation it may be tempting to launch PowerPoint and just start creating slides. However, some low-tech planning and organizing will actually help create a more cohesive and focused presentation. Before you start with PowerPoint (or any other software) step away from the keyboard and spend some time thinking about your topic and what you want to communicate to your audience.
In order to explore the techniques we’ll discuss below, pick one of the topics below or choose your own. You don’t have to create a presentation, but having a firm topic in mind will help you work through the exercises presented in this lesson.
- The role of social media in education
- The meaning of digital citizenship
- What role should distance education play in a post COVID-19 world?
- Teaching young students how to evaluate information on the internet
- How should Facebook be integrated into education, and why?
- How should internet access be available in public schools?
- When is an appropriate age for kids to start using technology?
- What are 21st century skills and how should schools be preparing students?
- How does technology impact an area of your interest?
Begin by thinking about your audience and what you think their expectations of your presentation will be. Is this a research report? A sales pitch? How much does your audience know about your topic? How interested do you expect them to be? What will they be getting out of your presentation?
List the three most important points you hope your audience will take away from your talk.
Once you have this in mind, start storyboarding your presentation and slides. Use a whiteboard, sticky notes or just a pad of paper to brainstorm how your information will flow and what images, charts or videos you’d like on each slide. Try to create a coherent and persuasive flow to your presentation that clearly and simply lays out the point you want to make and most critically, the points that you feel are important for the audience. Read this article by Garr Reynolds on how to storyboard your presentation. The videos are optional, but be sure to look at the images at the end of the article for an example of a storyboard and the resulting final slides.
Once you feel you have logically and coherently organized your presentation, test yourself. Imagine you are in an elevator and you have the time it takes to travel up or down a few floors to give a fellow passenger a synopsis of your talk. Can you do it?
Stories are one of the most effective ways to explain complicated ideas and to make information memorable and relevant to others. Try to incorporate storytelling into your presentation by illustrating your main points with stories. You can even think of your presentation as a story with an interesting beginning, meaty middle and logical conclusion. Stories can also help you to connect with your audience by generating an emotional response. Watch this video (3:01) by Nancy Duarte about the value of storytelling as a tool for presentations.
Topics in this video include:
- Importance of stories
- What makes a good story
- Storytelling tips
Stories also make concepts easier to remember. Your audience will more likely remember information presented as an enlightening and interesting story than a list of bullet points. Read this article by Nancy Duarte to see how you can structure your presentation like a story.
Develop a story that you can include or incorporate into your imaginary presentation.
When you build a presentation and craft your slides, be judicious about the amount of content you include. Good content is essential for any presentation, but too much content can overwhelm, alienate and bore your audience, causing them to tune out. Keep your content relevant to your audience and ensure that it supports the message of your presentation.
Watch this video (2:34) for more information on these techniques for presentation planning by Nancy Duarte
Topics in this video segment include:
- Selective use of slides
- When to develop slides
- 3 second slides
- Storyboarding slides
- Slides as a visual medium
Once your presentation is over don’t let it be over. Give your audience something to remember you by. If you want to share your slides, consider uploading them to Slideshare or AuthorStream so your audience can go back and review them online at their leisure. Just be sure that anything you post publicly has appropriate licensing and do not publicly share personal information. This is particularly important if your slides have photos of children or research data that should not be in the public domain.
Presenters often print out or email copies of their slides to interested members of the audience. While this can sometimes be helpful, highly visual slides might not convey the message you delivered verbally. To ensure that your audience can be reminded of the points that you want them to remember, consider creating a handout that specifically details this information. This should not be in slide format or created with PowerPoint. Instead, it should be a separate word processed document that provides a brief but cohesive discussion of your main points as well as your contact information for further questions. Read this article on five effective ideas for creating a presentation handout.
Create a one-page document that provides a synopsis of your presentation’s main points. This should be a word processed document, not slides.
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