Making Effective Presentations Part II

  • Planning and Preparation


A second step in the planning process is to develop the structure of your presentation.

Once you know what you want to say, you need to consolidate the materials into a meaningful message. In what order and how will you present the information? Don’t assume that the information will speak for itself.  Your audience may hear and process your information in very different ways based on your organization and presentation.

The audience needs to have the following questions answered:

  1. Why should they pay attention to you?
  2. When you have their attention, why should they care about the topic?
  3. If they agree with you about the significance of the topic, how are you justifying your ideas?
  4. Once you have convinced them, what do you want them to do? (What is the desired outcome?)

Develop a flexible, flowing structure. How your topic is relevant to your audience and what the benefits to them are should be addressed right away. Organize the body of the presentation logically; make it easy to follow.  Plan ways to encourage audience participation and maintain your credibility by discussing positive and negative views of what you are presenting. If you’re using visual aids, consider how you will incorporate them into your presentation effectively.


The audience, your purpose and desired outcome will affect the presentation style you use.  How you present the information is as important as what you present.  Organizing your ideas is one of the presenter’s tasks; gaining and maintaining attention is the other.

Your first words must capture the audience’s attention, engage them, even surprise them. Some good techniques include giving a quotation, a startling statement or fact, asking a question for the audience to think about or telling a short story.

Eye contact is your key means for establishing audience involvement: maintain eye contact at least 80% of the time during the presentation.   Other features of a good presentation style are:

  • Speaking clearly
  • Using correct pronunciation
  • Varying the volume and rate of speech a little
  • Using the appropriate level of formality
  • Adding emphasis
  • Using brief notes as aids (but not reading them!)
  • Pausing occasionally
  • Using appropriate gestures and moving around a bit


Good preparation will not only ensure that you have given careful thought to the message you want to communicate, it will also build your confidence.