I’ve been asked to deliver a presentation tomorrow – what should I do?
In an ideal world, you’d always be given plenty of time to prepare, and able to dedicate the recommended weeks to finalising messaging and visualisation. But everybody knows that this isn’t always the case. So what do you do if you’ve had a presentation dropped on you last minute?
First, check the timing and arrangements. Don’t assume that you have an hour slot. If you’re at a conference, what’s the overall topic? What’s the keynote? Who’s before you and after you? All of these things can impact the way you approach the presentation.
When you do move on to your presentation itself, always start at the beginning – with your objectives. What do you want to achieve with your presentation? What do you want your presentation to do and think?
Then work out what your key points will be to help them do and think these things. These will be your key messages – so make sure you focus on them.
Find material to support your messages. Wherever possible, use existing presentation slides. You can adapt text fairly easily before needing to request help from an expert designer. If you have to create a new slide from scratch, use a template. It will make it infinitely easier to create a uniform design.
If at all possible, have a designer look over it. No matter how proficient you are with PowerPoint, you will invariably miss things that an experienced presentation designer would wince at straight away.
Rehearse. Even if you have delivered this presentation before, you’ll have made some slight adaptions. Rehearse and make sure that you are comfortable with these. Check that you know everyone’s names. Check what you know about your audience. Can you make specific references in your presentation that will resonate with them? Practise these and check timing.
Nothing can substitute time and full preparation, but when time is short, these are the most effective things you can do to get the results you want.