How to Develop Effective Presentations – Step by Step Instructions

step by step instructionsThe following is a step by step instruction on how to develop an effective, practical presentation.  This process keeps in mind your audience and builds informal buy-in prior to the presentation.

Effective presentations are the bread and butter of consultants as we are paid handsomely by major corporations sometimes just for recommendations delivered in a presentation format.  I wrote these step by step instructions for my own use while working in consulting and wanted to share them with you.  They are based on my experiences at McKinsey and Deloitte and were used by myself and other managers/senior managers at Deloitte to build effective presentations.

Key steps

  1. Brainstorm presentation objectives
  2. Develop presentation outline
  3. Ghost presentation
  4. Develop presentation
  5. Practice delivery

Step 1: Brainstorm presentation objectives

  • Understand audience: list all the key types of people that will be the audience of this presentation
  • Define expected results: list what you would like each of your audience types to get out of this presentation and prioritize which results are the most important
  • Determine media: determine whether this presentation will be presented and / or used as a manual
  • Agree with stakeholders: make sure you have the same understanding about the presentation objectives as your key stakeholders

Step 2: Develop presentation story outline

  • Brainstorm content: develop a laundry list of content that should be included in the presentation
  • Develop draft storyline(s): develop 1-2 potential storylines for the presentation, keeping in mind the defined expected results.  Make sure you can describe the storylines to others like a story instead of the table of contents
  • Refine storyline: Give yourself some time gap between drafting the storyline and refining the storyline to clear your thoughts.  Use the following criteria to refine storyline.
    • Enable key expected results: does the presentation using this storyline help you achieve the expected results?
    • Efficient content: improve outline to avoid obvious content overlap to tell the story efficiently
    • Prioritized content: does the presentation using this storyline help the audience focus on key takeaways?
    • Interesting content: would you be bored with the presentation if you were one of the audience types?
  • Agree with stakeholder: gather feedback on refined storyline with key stakeholders to ensure alignment

Step 3: Ghost presentation

  • Sketch slide by slide “ghost”: draw out the outline in slide format on paper – no need to fill it in with content, just draw how you plan to present the content on each slide, so that you can mentally visualize the finished presentation
  • Rearrange slide orders: as you run the story in your mind through these slides, you can see whether the flow still works or whether you need to switch the ordering of some slides to strengthen the story
  • Sanity check:  it is important to make sure that the ghost presentation still meets the defined objectives from step one

Step 4: develop presentation

  • Divide and conquer:  If you have a team, divide up the work so each person work on a few slides.  Make sure everyone is on the same page with the storyline and how their assigned slides support the storyline
  • Identify gaps:  Once a draft is developed, look at your storyline and make sure every logical point is supported by some facts/reasoning in a slide.  Each slide should support only one major point.  Trying to cramp in more than one major point on a slide will lose its impact and confuse the audience.
  • Gather feedback and revise:  Review your draft slides again with at least your boss and other key stakeholders if possible.  You may be too close to the content and can’t see easily what’s still missing.   Revise accordingly

Step five: Practice delivery

  • Practice at least once out loud:  A mental overview of your story is not enough.  At least practice your opening statement and key points out loud.  You will notice immediately where you need to practice more
  • Confirm logistics: make sure you have the room booked and your projector set up and working prior to presentation.  Nothing is more unnerving than having equipment failure.

Good luck with your presentation.

Your comments:  Can you see yourself using the above step by step instructions to make a great presentaiton?  why or why not?  Add your comment below and let’s have a discussion.

I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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