Presentation Planning Tips – Ideal for Your Audience

Presentation Planning

It’s no surprise that we are all busy! It’s scary to think of how much time is wasted sitting in unproductive meetings, so the last thing anybody wants is to spend time watching / listening to a presentation that means nothing to them.

Presentation planning is key if you want to give a presentation that will leave a great impression with your audience.  There are 3 key areas to consider when planning your presentation.  Research must be undertaken so you know exactly who your audience is, what the purpose of your presentation is, and how it needs to be structured.

Below are our tips to help you do just that!


Who is your audience?

Have you ever listened to a presenter and thought “they really don’t have a clue about me”?

That is the last thing you want the audience thinking because it significantly reduces your chances of connecting with them and selling your message.

The audience are the most important people in the room.  You are speaking to get an action or reaction from them.  Keep this in mind at every step as you prepare and deliver your presentation.

In order to be able to communicate effectively and achieve your presentation objectives, you first need to understand your audience.  This will help you create a presentation best suited to their needs and will increase your chances of hitting the target.

The better you understand your audience, their attitude and their world, the better chance you have of engaging with them.

You must put yourself in their shoes, so how do you do that?

By doing a PROFILE of them… consider your audience under all the relevant headings below:

Physically – gender, age, nationality

Role – sales, IT, finance, marketing

Objective – WIIFM (What’s in it for me), their need

Feeling – how might they be feeling from a personal or business aspect

Impact – benefits for them and/or their organisation

Level – knowledge, expertise

Extra – information you need to bring e.g. questions that might be asked

By understanding how your topic is relevant to them and how it will benefit their needs, the more effective you can make the presentation.

If you are pitching to a company, find out as much as possible about them: their leaders, their company priorities, mission statements…

You can obviously go through their website, paying particular attention to their About Us, Blog or News sections.  Also, Google them as you might find out recent additional information through the press or social media channels.

Most of all you need to know what they are expecting from your presentation or talk.  This enables you to not only get your key message across, but address their needs too.  Try to find out what they expect to learn and take away from their time with you.

Once you have a deeper understanding of your audience, you can then move on to the “What” part of your presentation…


What is the purpose?

Every presentation should have a specific purpose.  This should be crystal clear and you should be able to express it in a single sentence.   As you crystalise your purpose think of it from 2 viewpoints.  Firstly, what is the purpose from their point of view?  Secondly, what is the purpose from your own point of view?  Always, put their purpose first.

On occasion your presentation may have more than one purpose.

Possible purposes could be to inform, to entertain, to inspire, to persuade, to motivate or to convince.

Whatever the purpose, keep it top of mind when you are creating your presentation.  If your purpose is to convince the audience to buy your product or use your service, make sure your presentation highlights their needs, informs them as to why they should buy from you and what benefit is it to them?


How to structure the presentation

Firstly, brain dump everything you know about the topic.  Do this on paper, in a list (on paper or as a document) or maybe even use a mind map.  Mind maps are great and there are lots of good mind mapping software out there which comes in handy if you have difficulty reading your own writing!

Using your brain dump make an outline, while all the time being mindful of the “who” and “what” above.  One popular technique is to narrow your outline to 3 main themes, points or categories.  Threes are rhythmical, magical and memorable. We talk about beginning, middle & end; starter, main course & dessert; yesterday, today & tomorrow; ABC; and 123.

The brain finds it relatively easy to grasp threes.

A good presentation should have a pre-planned opening and a pre-planned closing in addition to the main body.  It is a good idea to know your opening and closing almost verbatim.  This means that no matter how the presentation has gone in the middle, you will have given a good first impression and left with a lasting positive impression.

In order to keep the audience’s attention throughout your presentation, it is important to have a well-structured main body.  Again, it’s ideal to divide this part of the presentation into 3 main topics.

As you build the main body of your presentation, think about what detail you can include to back up your points.  Be conscious of varying the content between facts, figures, features, benefits, anecdotes, stories or visual aids to help to drive the message home.  The old expression “Facts Tell – Stories Sell” is as true now as when first coined.  Include relevant stories that will resonate with your audience.  This alone will make your presentation more engaging.

If the main body of your presentation contains charts and figures, one great way of making it more visually appealing is to make the figures relevant to something your audience can relate to.

For example, let’s take the figure of 250,000 – if you are presenting to an audience who you know have an interest in rugby, or there has just been an International at the weekend, why not say this is the equivalent of filling Twickenham 3 times.  Better still, if you are using PowerPoint put up a slide showing a picture of the stadium in triplicate.

When creating your slides, remember they are an accessory to help make your message more impactful and memorable.  Get all your messaging in order first and then use slides as visuals aids (not props) to help reinforce the message.  Your visuals are there to aid your content not to be the content.

So, there you have the 3 key areas to focus on when creating your presentation – who is audience, what is the purpose of the presentation and how will it be structured.

If you or your team want help in delivering effective presentations to clients or prospects, take a look at how our in-company masterclasses could help.