If you have a big presentation coming up and you want to engage your audience and make an impact. But in order to do so, you need to create a presentation outline. Without this first essential step, creating your presentation will take up to 10 times longer.
Presentation outlines help you break down the big picture into small manageable chunks and give you greater confidence and control over your content. All of which help you to create a slick and sharp presentation that your audience will understand and remember.
Prepare for Your Topic
Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of your presentation outline, you need to do some essential preparation. These four steps will take you through the preparation and research stage of your outline so you get to the heart of what your presentation is all about:
Practice the brain-dump
Scribble down what it is you want to say. Don’t worry about formatting or structure at this stage. It doesn’t even have to be in full sentences, just write! Get your ideas out of your head and onto paper (or on the screen).
Consider your audience
Who are you going to deliver the speech to? The answer will help you determine what your audience cares about and how they wish to be spoken to. Ask yourself these questions when considering your audience for your presentation outline:
● What are your audience’s expectations?
● What prior knowledge, if any, does your audience have on the subject of your speech?
● What is their attitude towards the topic?
● What size of audience do you expect?
● What benefits will your speech provide your audience?
● What is the audience demographics?
Taking an audience centred approach is essential to creating an effective presentation
Do your research
You have all your thoughts and ideas in front of you and now you need to back them up. Identify sources and data to support your views and ideas. Use authoritative statistics from respected bodies to lend your presentation credibility.
Notes on using statistics in your presentation
● Make sure your stats have a purpose. Why are you using them?
● Build your stats around your key message
● Only use stats from reliable sources
● Think about the presentation of your stats. Statistics presented visually are easier to understand and more memorable
Condense your research to find your key message
Keep in mind the time allotted to your presentation. You may have some great insights and a bunch of hot statistics but it’s unlikely that you will have to time to relay them all.
What you NEED to say may not be the same as what you want to say. You’ll have to be ruthless! Cut, cut, and then cut some more. Sift through the data and get rid of the fluff and filler. You should be able to narrow your message down to just 3 main points.
Decide on a title
Don’t wait until the end to choose your title. Selecting a title at the beginning of the presentation process makes planning your outline much easier. It helps drive the message of your content because you already know what you need to deliver.
For example, take the generic title “Presentation on AI” and measure it against a presentation entitled “The Rise of the Robots: How to Harness the Power of AI for your Business”.
You can see which presentation will be easier to plan. The latter has a benefit-driven title which promises to convey a specific topic without getting lost in generalities.
Structure Your Presentation for Clarity
There are three basic building blocks to any speech or presentation outline:
This is where you establish your topic, your core message, and possible supporting points. It should set up the body of your speech.
This is the meat on your presentation plate and it tends to be the place where most people get stuck when creating their presentation outline.
The easiest approach to this middle section is to attack it with the Trident Structure. A trident has 3 points and so should your body section. No matter how complex your presentation, you should be able to break it down into 3 main points.
● Trident Point One
● Trident Point Two
● Trident Point Three
By doing so, you create clear, sharp content that is punchy and drives your message straight home.
How you close your presentation is just as important as how you start it. It’s your last chance to impress your audience so make it count!
You’ll want to recap the main points and summarize the core message quickly. However, this doesn’t mean regurgitating all the same information again.
Build Slides to Back-up Your Points
When you consider that 90% of information transmitted to our brains is visual then it makes sense to pay attention to what the audience will SEE as well as hear at your presentation. Plan how you will use PowerPoint to support your message. Your slides should be a visual representation of what you are saying.
For example, if your point is that the average American works 44 hours per week, you could create a visual like this.
Data visualizations are another great way to show rather than tell. Instead of reading facts and figures, insert a pie chart, graph, or infographic which can bring your data and your presentation to life.
Prompt yourself with speaker notes
Fight the desire to stand up in front of your audience with a full script in front of you. There truly is nothing worse than listening to someone read off of a script during a live presentation. All credibility goes right out the window.
If you have followed all the steps of this speech outline template, then you won’t need a script. All you will need is a few words or transitional phrases that will keep you on track.
Making use of the speaker notes tool is an easy way to plan what you want to say and stay on track through what you are going to present.
This is an essential part of your speech outline. You won’t know what works or doesn’t work if you don’t have a run-through. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect” and even if perfection is impossible, confidence is certainly within reach!
Practice your speech with your presentation technology or PowerPoint presentation in the room you will be staging your speech. This will help you feel more comfortable and allow you to focus on your presentation rather than adjusting to space or technology.
Present or record your presentation
After finishing your presentation outline and practising, it’s showtime!
This can mean anything from presenting on stage at a conference, leading a small team meeting, or using the PowerPoint narration tools to record your presentation. However, if you don’t know how to narrate a PowerPoint presentation so you can share it with others, read this narration guide here.
After the presentation, we are sure it will find like a weight off of your shoulders. However, if you have followed this outline, rest easy with the confidence that you have made an impact and commanded the room. Just like you wanted to.