When people find out they are giving a presentation, they often jump into putting the slides together for their talk. However, before you start working on the PowerPoint, it’s a good idea to take some time and answer these 3 questions:
1. Who is my audience?
Many people assume they know who their audience is, but it’s always better to double-check. I’ve worked with clients before who thought that the talk would only be for a technical audience. Then, two days before the event, they found out that it was also open to the public. Knowing who will be in the audience is the most important question to answer before putting together the content of a talk.
2. What do I want people to learn?
When I meet with clients, one of the first questions I ask is, “In one sentence, what do you want people to say they learned from this talk?” That question often stops them. They normally have a long list of things they want to discuss, but distilling it down into one sentence is hard. That’s also why it’s so important. It shouldn’t be the audience’s job to analyze and figure out the main goal of your talk. You should be very clear and direct with the purpose of your presentation and what you want your audience to recall.
3. What image do I want them to remember?
When you reflect on presentations that you enjoyed, the first thing you remember is not a long script — it’s an image. Maybe that image was a slide they used. Perhaps that image was from a story they told. Either way, you aren’t thinking about the script. The first thing you see in your memory is a picture. As a speaker, think about what you want that image to be. You can reuse the same image on multiple slides during a presentation. Or, you can tell a story at the beginning of your talk, and then come back to it at the end. Since people tend to remember visuals more than facts, it’s important to ask yourself what image you want associated with your presentation.
Before you put together a presentation, you should know who your audience is, what you want people to learn, and what image you want them to remember.
Bri McWhorter is the Founder and CEO of Activate to Captivate.