Although you don’t need to memorize your presentation word-for-word, you do need to plan it out. With planning your presentation will have a logical flow and you’ll be better prepared to handle last-minute edits and on-the-fly tailoring queued by your audience. Read on to learn more ways that planning helps you deliver a better presentation.
When You Fail to Plan…
You know how the saying goes — you plan to fail. Although I’m sure you don’t literally plan to fail, by failing to plan out your presentation, you do set yourself up for potential failure.
Planning involves a systematic approach to a project that brings about the desired results. For instance, if you want a more visual presentation, you learn how to create slides that people can view, or create a slideshow of images they can relate to. Nothing happens automatically. There is some action involved. Without a plan, you may find yourself quickly floundering about on the stage.
Benefits of Planning
Here are some rewards of a presentation that are well thought out.
1. Your words flow naturally
Rehearsing is a part of the planning process. You decide how you will present the information and then practice running through the entire speech as many times as necessary to get the feel that you want. Most presenters strive for a conversational feel instead of a scripted performance, so word-for-word memorization isn’t necessary. But you do want to have your general beats down.
2. You stay on topic
Planning allows you to hone in on your topic, select a few essential bullet points and expand upon them. Chunking your speech in this way will help keep tangents away. And, it also helps you to remember what you want to say much more easily.
3. You can develop a Plan B
Suppose that your laptop crashes or your slides don’t load properly? What will you do now? Thinking about this ahead of time means formulating a backup plan just in case of emergency. For example, I always bring a print out of my slides. That way if PowerPoint is not cooperating, I can have the slides copied and distributed — or at least have a copy for me to use as notes. Devise a strategy for what you will do in the event of equipment failure, technology failure, power failure and the like.
4. You can better understand your audience
Planning gives you time to ask questions of the person or organization inviting you to speak. Find out what they expect as well as the likes and dislikes of the group. If started early enough, you can even survey or interview people who will be attending your presentation. Now you can center your topic on their interests.
5. You can anticipate questions, challenges and sticking points
What types of questions would you ask if you were in the audience? How would you respond? Questions like this prepare you for just about anything that the audience throws your way without getting flustered. It also increases your knowledge of the subject matter. Better yet, practice your presentation in front of someone else, preferably someone like the people in your audience, to find out what questions they might have about the topic.
6. Correcting mistakes
When you rehearse your presentation, ask a trusted friend or colleague to watch you. They can point out mistakes being made so they can be corrected in advance of the big day. I also recommend video recording your presentation, so you can uncover mistakes you might be making, as well.
As you can see, there are several advantages to planning your presentation, not the least of which is knowing what you will say to your audience.