Consider these scenarios:
- You have to make a presentation at a conference or trade show. You do not know these people and will probably never see them again.
- You are asked to make a presentation at tomorrow’s staff meeting.
- You need to talk to your spouse or child about family finances.
Which would you spend the most time preparing for and which would you be most likely do with little or no preparation?
We all make presentations. We try to convince, change a behavior or attitude, or share information and ideas. Since most of the time these presentations are to family, friends, or coworkers – we undervalue the importance of the talk and we not prepare. We go into it with unclear goals and exceptions, and subsequently, fail to reach our goals.
We tend to prepare the least for the presentations that have the greatest impact while preparing the most for the presentations that have the smallest impact.
Most speakers spend less than 2 hours preparing for a formal presentation. When the presentation is to staff, friends, or family, the tendency is to do little or no preparation. They walk in, shoot from the hip, and many times end up shooting themselves in the foot.
When you speak to a room full of people and make a mistake – there is empathy for you. The implications are minimal if you completely blow it: the audience probably will not even remember your name and will think you had a bad day or are a poor presenter. However, what are the implications for a poor performance when you present an idea at a staff meeting? What about when you need to speak to a family member about an important issue?
Treat all your presentations with the importance they are due.
- Take time to prepare.
- Identify your objective: know what it is you wish to accomplish.
- Define your message: what is it you want the person(s) to know?
- Create effective visual aids: what can you show to help you make your point?
Taking the time to prepare for your smaller presentations is more important than taking the time for the ones to a larger group. Take all your speaking seriously and you will be more effective in many aspects of your life.