Key Questions for the Pre-Presentation

Microphone

Have you ever stood in front of a crowd and felt your palms go clammy and your throat dry up as you stammer out a few awkward sentences? Have you turned down an opportunity to promote your business because you didn't think you could get up and make a speech? Then here are some powerful strategies that you can use to prepare yourself to give winning presentations with confidence. 

Giving an outstanding presentation doesn't have to be hard, it's often just about asking yourself the right questions. As you prepare your next presentation, ask yourself: 

What is your outcome? 

When preparing for a presentation, most people start by asking themselves, "What am I going to say?" But they should be asking, "What is my outcome?" The best presenters aim to accomplish a quantifiable result, not just recite information. So before you even begin drafting the presentation content, start by thinking about what specific result you want to achieve. 

Outstanding speakers get people taking action -- to fulfil a want or need using an idea or solution you offer them.

Some guidelines for creating a powerful outcome statement:

Be specific. Get clear on the action that you want your audience to take.

Be audience-centric. The best presenters create a win-win situation for themselves and their audience. 

Be exciting. You have to be excited about what you are presenting if you want anyone else to get excited about it, too.

Be certain. Write your outcome statement in the past tense and you'll act as if it has already happened instead of wondering whether or not it will. 

What problems does your audience want to solve?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that the presentation is all about you, your ideas, products, and solutions. Remember why your audience is there in the first place; they need or want something from you. The best thing they can hear is that you care about them, understand their problems, and can discuss them in a way that is meaningful to them. For both you and the audience, the ultimate objective is to improve their situation and demonstrate that you can give them what they really want. One of the biggest secrets of the presentation game is understanding that it need to be a win-win situation for you and your audience.

Where is your audience now in terms of this result?

Take time to learn about your audience in advance, so that when you give your presentation you can engage with them and help them find solutions. Demonstrate that you understand what obstacles are keeping them from where they want to be and what they believe to be the reasons keeping them from getting results so far. Speak in their language and build trust and credibility by deeply resonating with them and leading them to a solution. Focus on what's important to your audience, what interests and inspires them. Figure out what anecdotes, examples, stories, and experiences will resonate with them most and demonstrate your understanding and authority. 

How are you going to get them to respond to you?

Getting your audience to be responsive and engaged at the beginning of your presentation is critical to its success. Lack of audience response is painful. Here are some of the best strategies for getting your audience to engage with what you are saying:

Start conversations before the presentation. Show up early for the presentation and strike up conversations with people in your audience beforehand. Let them get to know you and vice versa.

Be introduced. Supply your host with a catchy biography of no more than 150 words focused on what you are going to be talking about, why it's important to the group, and a bit about you as the authority and presenter.

Ask a question. At the beginning of your presentation, ask an open question such as "How many of you have…?" What would you do if…?" "Is it true that…?" People's brains are hardwired to respond and engage more when someone asks a question.

Get them moving. If it's appropriate get your audience to stand up, stretch, shake hands with other attendees or even move to another part of the room.  Any movement increases their engagement. 

Break the ice. Icebreakers such as a fun game or demonstration increases responsiveness. 

Make them laugh. This creates engagement and connection. 

These are some of the best strategies to prepare for your presentation and enable you to share your message in a much more effective way to achieve your desired outcome. 

Tom McCarthy is the founder of the Fire Up Training System and Corporation that delivers sales team transformation for exponential growth. The Fire Up Training System transforms sales teams by guiding them to breakthrough their limitations and communicate powerful messages that solve their customers problems and drive them to take action. They are the "go-to" for many Fortune 100 companies and leading corporations.