You’re under pressure.
You’ve got critical deadlines coming out of your ears.
The last thing you have time for is a presentation.
You’re a pretty confident person.
Under normal circumstances, a presentation wouldn’t stress you in the least.
Today’s different though.
You’re under so much pressure from all sides your presentation has received zero attention.
Which means you’re about to speak to an audience unprepared.
Here’s a 7 step foolproof formula you can follow to get ready quickly.
The steps are in descending order of importance so if you run out of time you’re still good to go.
I’ve even got a cool, catchy acronym to help you remember the formula:
Okay, let’s get started!
Step 1 is to make sure you understand your topic in-depth.
The success of any presentation is down to the presenter.
The more knowledgeable, credible, and confident the presenter is, the more likely the audience is to pay attention and internalize what the presenter says.
The key to all these things is to understand what you are talking about.
Understanding your topic builds your confidence and helps you come across as more knowledgeable and credible.
Understanding your topic reduces the need for prompts like cue cards and slides.
When a presenter can talk about their subject matter without relying on cards, slides, scripts, and other prompts, the presentation always goes smoothly.
The great thing about understanding your topic well is that you have to focus less on remembering particular words.
You can now focus on conveying your message.
Step 2 is to understand your audience. Who will be listening to you?
The best presentations are ones where there is a 3-way connection between presenter, topic, and audience.
To create a connection with the audience your presentation needs to be relevant to them.
To frame your presentation effectively, find out who your audience is and what their existing relationship is with your topic.
Ask yourself some questions as you think about them:
- What is their position?
- What do they know already?
- What motivates them?
- What frustrates them?
- How can I, or my topic, help them?
Step 3 is to decide the outcome you need from your presentation.
What do you want to the audience to take away?
What action, if any, would you like the audience to take next?
Deciding your result now will allow you to plan a presentation which consistently drives in the right direction.
Step 4 is to plan out what you will say.
Now, this doesn’t mean write out a script.
One of the reasons we focused on understanding your topic in step 1 was so that you wouldn’t need a script.
What planning means is dividing your presentation into talking points.
Each talking point should be represented by keyword which is easy to remember.
A good rule to follow is to try and keep your talking points to a maximum of 3. More than 3 and you risk not clearly getting your message across.
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine I’m doing a presentation to introduce a new reporting template we should use:
Result: I want everyone to try out the new report template
Talking point 1: Why we need a new report template
Talking point 2: The good points about the new template that will help everyone
Talking point 3: How to use the new report template
Let’s summarize this into easy-to-remember keywords:
Talking Point 1: WHY?
Talking point 2: BENEFITS?
Talking point 3: HOW?
Framing your keywords as a question will make them easier to remember when you’re on stage.
Step 5 is to plan the first thing you will say when you get in front of your audience, your opening line.
The toughest part of any presentation is the first few seconds on stage.
You can reduce the stress of those first few seconds, and look more confident, by knowing the first thing you will say when you walk on stage.
Your opening line can be a statement or question about your topic.
Using the new report template example from above, how about these for opening statements:
“I have some good news about your reports.”
“Who’s tired of the time it takes to write reports?”
Step 6 is to practice.
Using the planning you have done, practice delivering your presentation.
If you have time, recording yourself and reviewing will help you improve.
As you practice, don’t obsess about perfection. Instead, focus on fluidity and clarity of your message.
If you make some mistakes along the way it’s okay. It’s likely the mistakes will make you seem more real and credible to the audience (provided you know your topic).
Step 7 is to prepare your slides (if required).
I know, I know. This is usually the first thing you do what you need to get a presentation ready.
Trouble is, slides first is what’s causing you so much stress.
It’s what’s causing you to focus on perfection.
It’s what’s boxing you into bullet points.
The presentation is much better for your audience, and easier for you, if you create your slides last.
Once you know what you are going to say, plan some slides that will support you. They should support you rather than be the main act.
There you have it!
The 7-step TARPOPSformula!
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