a coPy of
their lives were turned around by
the home. The audience immediately
connected with the teens, setting the
tone for future communication—and
illustrating tHe Point
Presentations can’t stand on goals
and tone alone. They need substance. Great presentations must be
researched and well-supported with
facts, quotes, humor, surveys and
other interesting content.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the
thought of daunting research. It
doesn’t require staying hunched over
your desk all day. Sometimes the best
ideas come when you’re not in the
office. Taking a few minutes to determine where you get your inspiration
can help make your presentation a
Start the research process by brainstorming. Quickly record any and all
thoughts that come to mind about
your topic. True brainstorming, after
all, is about quantity and generating
lots of ideas.
Then, go on to find data to support whatever point you are trying to
make. This information can be found
in research reports, articles, surveys,
portfolios and financial statements,
to name a few. One of the most effective ways to prove a point, however,
is to offer tangible examples to the
Most people learn by doing, and
they learn by hearing about what
others have done. Help your audi-
ence connect the dots by providing
examples of your experiences, or how
you and your company have handled
a situation or resolved a problem.
The key, of course, is providing a
level of detail and frame of reference
appropriate to your audience. Don’t be afraid to include
what you learned that worked and what you tried that
Once you’ve accumulated all the information needed for
a robust presentation, you must organize that information so it doesn’t get lost. Determine how to present a
clear, coherent line of thought. Your goal is to link all of
the elements of your presentation or speech together—
connecting the primary points to stories or examples.
An outline can be extremely helpful to organizing a presentation. Think of an outline as a roadmap. Decide first
what your message is, why your audience wants to hear it,
and how you will reinforce it.
Summary sentences and sequencing your thoughts
are also important. For a 30-minute talk, having five or
six main points is ideal. Those points can be described
in summary sentences, which will help you to visualize
your presentation and more effectively organize your
No matter the type of presentation or speech I make,
I like to use an outline comprised of what I call talking
points. I jot down key words that will remind me of what
I want to discuss. When I begin to rehearse, this helps me
determine if the flow is smooth and logical. You can use
the same tactic in planning an interview with a potential
employer: Decide what skills, expertise and experience
you want to highlight, and prioritize those.
Once the first draft of your outline is in place, it is time
to bring out your inner editor. Be ruthless. Make sure the
content is accurate, understandable and supported, and
the right amount of content is included to meet any presentation time requirements. At the same time, stay true
to your material, your audience and your personality.
PraCtiCe MaKes PerFeCt
Know your presentation material forward and backward.
Unless you’re an expert at improvisation, ”winging it” is
not advised. Sometimes planning your presentation as
though you were going to deliver it in writing is helpful.