Your Presentation: setting it up

Good presentations are clear, relevant, structured and provide the audience with a takeaway message


YOU have probably seen a presentation at school, university or at work that you would describe as “less than successful”.

The presentation was probably unsuccessful because it failed to meet your expectations.

You may have found yourself asking one of the following questions:

  1. What is this presentation about?
  2. How is this presentation relevant to me, my organisation or my industry?
  3. I can’t follow, where is this presentation going? What are the main points?
  4. I’m giving an hour of my time, how does this presentation benefit me? Why do I care?

Setting up your presentation is important because it will help you take control of the presentation right from the start by managing the expectations of your audience and answering their unspoken questions.

The presentation set up has four main parts:

1. What

What are you talking about?  You should make it clear for the audience what subject or topic area the presentation will cover.

2. Why

Why is the presentation relevant to your audience? Put the presentation in the context of recent events or impending events. For example: “you will be able to use the skills you learn in this presentation on the MECE Framework in your next presentation, client meeting or research report.”

3. How

How will the presentation be structured?  Provide a structure for your talk.  Do you have three main points – what are they?  Will you allow questions during the presentation or should people wait until the end?

4. Outcome

What will your audience take away with them at the end of the presentation that they didn’t have at the beginning? Outline what your audience will get out of the presentation. What will they know? How will they feel? What will they do?  For example: “when you walk away from this room, you will be able to structure your thoughts more logically.  Structured thinking will help you give clients clear explanations so that they can easily understand and engage in the consulting process. Being easy to understand is client friendly and will make you a more valuable consultant.”

[For more information on consulting concepts and frameworks, please download “The Little Blue Consulting Handbook“.]

Don’t boil the ocean

THERE is a term that consultants use which is called “boiling the ocean” (I borrowed this idea from Victor Chang).

If you want one cup of hot water, there are two ways you can do it:

  1. go and collect one cup of water, and heat it up; or
  2. try and boil the entire ocean.

As a consultant, you could ask a million questions and request all of the information in the client’s database.  Or, you could just ask for the information you need to answer the questions required to confirm your hypothesis.

You don’t have the time or the resources to analyse everything.

Are you able to ask the minimum number of questions to get the information you need to make a recommendation?

You will need to be selective.

Expand Your Mind – Join a Forum

A LITTLE while ago, back in May of this year, we discovered that there are a number of benefits to be gained from participating in a forum.

The previous list of benefits was quite general, and so I will take another look at the benefits of participating in a forum.  The new list is created specially for you, the idealistic and hardworking student who will one day change the world, you know who you are.

  1. Expand Your Mind: Using a forum will expand your mind, give you an experience which is out of the ordinary, alter your perception of life, and help you access and develop the unused potentials of your mind.
  2. Anything Goes, Man: Embrace the free spirited, informal, anything goes nature of participating in a forum.  You can participate and have your say.  Or if you don’t want to participate, that’s cool too man!
  3. Set Your Ideas Free: If you love your ideas, set them free.  Share what you know, without any hope of repayment.  You can make the world a better place.
  4. Make Peace Not War: Every day you are bombarded by an assault of noise and trivial ideas.  Shallow messages developed by 40 year old marketing executives attempt to influence your decisions. Take action against cheap and meaningless ideas by writing a well structured and thoughtful comment in a forum.  The world is now a more peaceful and coherent place to live.
  5. Discover Who You Are: Who are you? What do you believe?  Your personal identity is based on what you believe and by discussing ideas, arguing different positions and testing your thoughts, you can build your own personal beliefs about how the world works and what is important to you.  Establishing a clear personal identity and set of beliefs will help you meet the challenges of life with confidence and certainty.
  6. Stand Up For What You Believe: You know who you are and what you stand for. Embrace life and assert your unique personality and perspective.
  7. Join a Club or Society: There is a forum for everyone, and if you go through your internet days without ever having been a member of one then you may have missed out on one of the most rewarding experiences that the internet has to offer.  If you don’t like debating then maybe the Drama Club or the Speleological Society. If there’s no forum that caters for your particular interests, you can always start one.
  8. Make Friends for Life: On a forum you can meet people from different walks of life.  They may not live in the same city or suburb, have attended the same high school, or come from the same socio-economic background, but you share a common interest.

To help you capitalise on the benefits of participating in a forum, a brand new Consulting Forum will be launched through this blog on 1 August 2010!

Please be sure to join the forum, ask questions, post comments, and participate in the discussion.  Or if you don’t want to participate, that’s cool too man!