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Preparing to Make a Presentation

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Preparation steps

So you have created a well-structured presentation. You are almost ready to deliver it! But you have some important preparations to make, and things to think about – and get right – before you start talking.

Step 1: Arrive early and practice

You must practice giving your presentation! Arrive early into the room where the presentation is to be held. Have a run-through and practice where you are going to stand and what level of volume and voice projection will be necessary for you to be heard in the room. Practice using your visuals. Ensure that your remote control works in all parts of the room. And have a backup plan in case of some technical glitches!

Ideally, you should do the practice session the day before, to ensure you have plenty of time to deal with anything that goes wrong.

Step 2: Take control of the room

Don’t be afraid to move the furniture to meet the requirements of your presentation.

For example, are the tables laid out in school-room style, cabaret style, boardroom style, or horse-shoe style? Which works best for you? Will everyone be able to see and hear? Is the sun shining on your projection screen? And what about the seating? Is there enough, and is it suitable? You don’t want your voice to be drowned out by the squeaking and groaning of old chairs!

Don’t forget the technical considerations. Are there power sockets close by the podium? Is your laptop compatible with the in-room audio-visual system? Do you have your presentation on a back-up memory stick? If people are dialing in remotely, will they be doing so from the start of your presentation or at a defined time?

Also think about how you’ll be delivering. Do you need a whiteboard? Do you need pens and flip chart paper? Is there a stylus for the electronic whiteboard?

Step 3: Consider your audience carefully

Are there VIPs or senior executives coming to your presentation? You will want them to be in your direct line of sight at all times and seated in a cluster directly in front of you.

If they decide to spread themselves about the room, then you may make unintentional ‘orphans’ out of some of them, as you forget to look in their direction during your presentation. A solution is to print out name cards with the name of the VIP printed on both sides of the card, and then stick them onto the seats you have chosen for them. Then, when the VIPs arrive, they know exactly where it is that they have to sit and you know their names. If a VIP does comment on the name cards, you can honestly respond that you like to ensure that all of your VIPs are sitting in your direct line of sight. Don’t underestimate people’s fondness for a little bit of flattery!

Step 4: Don’t forget to have a back-up plan

Make sure you’ll be able to respond to the worst-case scenario by considering in advance what is the worst thing that can happen and prepare accordingly. What if the room is double booked? What if you cannot connect to or use your presentation? What if there is a power cut? Suppose a VIP is going to be late. Do you wait for them to arrive before beginning? Or do you start anyway and recap – or not – when they arrive?

Preparation in action

Consider this real-life example of someone taking control of the layout of the room and ensuring a presentation is delivered to best effect.

A multinational client was holding their annual conference in a 20,000-seat arena in Amsterdam. The conference was to be attended by up to 4,000 people and to last for three days. My role was to train and coach the Senior Management Team (or SMT), who were to open each day of the conference with their own presentations.

The SMT were concerned that when they stood to present, the audience would gravitate towards the rear of the arena and leave the seats nearest the stage empty. Obviously, this would be very off-putting, especially in such a large space. From my viewpoint, I could also see that the audience would gravitate towards the more popular members of the SMT and away from the less popular. This would be very embarrassing for the company!

With taking control of the presentation space in mind, I suggested that I could ensure that everyone sat in the first few tiers of seating and ignored the seating at the rear of the arena, but there would be an extra cost incurred of €2.50! I bought a roll of wide masking tape and arrived in the arena early in the morning. Using the tape, I cordoned off the rear of the arena, causing the audience to fill up the front tiers of seating. Only when there was the possibility of overflow, did I open up additional seating. It was a good result as the arena appeared full and the audience was closer to the presenters and enjoyed greater interaction.

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Cathal Melinn and Kevin Reid

Cathal Melinn is Digital Marketing Manager at Digital Marketing Institute.

  • 13 years’ experience in search and display
  • Worked at Yahoo! Search in 2005 as a Senior Search Strategist for the UK Financial Services vertical
  • Moved to the world of agency in 2010 as Head of Search and Online Media for five years 
  • Currently working at the Digital Marketing Institute as a Digital Marketing Manager
  • Previous clients include Apple, Vodafone, Expedia, Virgin, Universal Music Group, Amazon, Compare the Market, and HSBC

Kevin Reid is CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com.

  • A consummate and skillful international communications trainer, facilitator, and coach
  • Has over 15 years of learning development experience with individuals, teams, and entire organizations
  • Has facilitated communications workshops and training across numerous sectors in Ireland, the UK, Europe, America, and Africa

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Compare techniques for enhancing creative thinking skills.
  • Analyse strategies to improve problem-solving skills in the workplace

    The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

    You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

    You will not be assessed on this content.


      Creativity Skills
      Cathal Melinn and Kevin Reid
      Skills Expert

      Creative skills aren’t just for artists and designers! Everyone can learn to be more creative. In fact, the ability to think creatively is an invaluable skill in today’s workplace.

      With the help of Cathal Melinn, you will learn how to enhance your creative thinking skills – which should help you generate new ideas, find innovative solutions to problems, and develop new products and services. You will also learn how to remove barriers to creativity and the importance of persevering when your ideas fail.

      When it comes to tackling specific workplace difficulties, you will be introduced to a six-step method you can use to solve problems. And you’ll learn about the skills you need to cultivate in order to be an effective problem-solver.

      You will also turn your creative attention to the art of giving presentations. You will discover how to create and structure an effective presentation, and the preparations you need to make in advance, as well as useful tips on how to deliver an engaging presentation and how to hold a Q&A session at the end.