10 questions to help you deliver a great presentation

Something I often hear when running Zoomly’s ‘How to deliver presentations’ workshop is that the client company has ‘their way’ of doing presentations. What that usually means is that they have a house style and guidelines for the slides. Whilst that’s all well and good – and preferable to dozens of different styles randomly being used – there’s a risk that a major consideration could get overlooked.

The audience.

Attention presenters: you need to remember that presentations aren’t all about you. There are the people on the receiving end to consider, and you omit their loves, hates, preferences and aspirations at your peril. So a certain amount of tailoring is going to be required.

My top tips for creating presentations that really work are to:

  • Have crystal clear objectives – what do you want to achieve with your presentation?
  • Have a thorough understanding of your audience – what do they want and need from your presentation? Beyond your audience’s objectives you also need to have a clear picture of what they’re like.

Only when you’ve clarified your objectives and understand your audience can you start to create your presentation. Fire up the last load of slides you did as your starting point and you could be heading for trouble. The best presentations manage to marry clear objectives and the audience’s needs.

Create a pen portrait of your audience by answering these 10 questions:

  1. What word (one is good, three is fine, ten may be too many) or phrase best describes them?
  2. What are they expecting – what are their objectives?
  3. What’s their corporate culture like? Formal? Innovative? Traditional? Casual?
  4. What are they particularly proud of?
  5. Whose opinions do they respect?
  6. Are they people who need a lot of detail to decide? Or can they decide based on the big picture? (and if there’s a mix, how will you handle that? Clue: don’t just leave a hard copy of the deck – see this post for alternatives).
  7. What level of seniority – or mix of levels – will be there?
  8. How do they best assimilate information? On a flip chart or whiteboard? With pictures? Or in a detailed tender document?
  9. To what have they responded well (and badly) in past presentations?
  10. Who are the key decision makers and will they be in the room?

You may find this blog post useful: ‘10 reasons why you need to rehearse your presentation’.


Dawn is the author of ‘How to be Zoomly at work’, available on Amazon.

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