Why presenters who plan make better speakers

August 27, 2019

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When approaching a new presentation, presenters tend to fall into one of two categories: planners or pantsers. Simply put, a planner is someone who plans out their entire presentation before they design it. On the other hand, a pantser dives straight into the presentation software without any plan. So, which one are you? 
We’re definitely planners! The planning stage may not seem as exciting as designing the slides, but it enables you to have a clear idea of the information you want to cover in your presentation, and how each idea links together to create the story. This approach will save you time and hassle, and result in a clearer and more concise presentation.  
Earlier this year we ran the Communicate Innovate presentation event entitled War on Attention. During the day we looked at all the stages of building a presentation, including the planning stage. In the video below, attendee Helen Thompson from Womble Bond Dickinson shares her key takes from the event.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how to plan for a successful presentation that makes an impact. 

Creating a mind map

The first thing you should do is generate a core message and clear objectives for your presentation. Then you can create a mind map with as many ideas as possible. Some presenters prefer to use a notepad to write down their ideas, while others write them on individual post its. 
Word-mapping is a great technique to develop your ideas even further by writing or drawing word associations. Either way, the freedom of being away from the screen works well for your creative flow.  

The aim of your presentation is for people to not only remember the message, but also to inspire them to take action


The next step is to refine your ideas and see how they link to the core message of your presentation in order to build your story. At this stage, you can explore different options until you’re happy with the overall order and flow of your presentations. 
Try adding some notes or sketches to help you better visualise your story. Sketches are visual aids that help explain a story, but they can also spark more ideas. They help you think visually once you open your presentation software and start to build your slides.   
Storyboard for presenters

Receiving feedback

It’s always a good idea to show your presentation to a colleague and get their feedback. Having a fresh pair of eyes can help you spot any errors or if any facts are unclear. Even after building hundreds of presentations over the years, we still check each other’s presentations. 
When choosing your images, icons or videos, think about their meaning and whether they help convey or enhance the meaning of the presentation. Visuals are not there just for decor, as some people may think. As author and speaker Garr Reynolds says, ‘Design isn’t about decoration or ornamentation. Design is about making communication as easy and clear for the viewer as possible.’
Whether you use PowerPoint or Prezi to design your presentation, organise the slides in a way that guides your audience through the content. Ultimately the aim of your presentation is for people to not only remember the message, but also to inspire them to take action.
For more planning tips, read our  blog about building a strong story plot. We also run regular Prezi and PowerPoint training throughout the year. 
If you’d like to arrange a free consultation to see how we can help, contact us at [email protected].

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