The Introvert’s guide to preparing for a presentation.

 

I’m not going to give you the full logic here, just the guidelines to my process. Don’t worry about why, just know this works reliably.

1.      1.  Start at the End.

What do you want your audience to DO when you’ve finished speaking? Write down exactly the action you’d like them to take in an ideal world. This statement, or an iteration of it, will form the last words you say.

2. Construct the Structure

In brief headlines, construct a story which leads inevitably to your final statement.

3. Write the script

Tempting as it is to think you can busk on the day write down exactly the words you will use. Public speaking typically goes at 3 words every two seconds, so you can also work out how many words you need.

4. Repeat

Each time you read the script, iron out any phrases which cause problems, either because they are tongue twisters, or simply inelegant. You find this out by reading out loud – preferably to an audience.  As you go adjust the script accordingly.

5. Write your opening

The first words you say should capture the attention, and establish your credibility. It helps if they are also provocative in some way.

6. Rehearse

Make a copy of your speech in a large font. This is your now unalterable script. This is very different from the repeat/rewrite Step 4. You are now learning the text by heart and refining the delivery.

7. Make the slides

Professional presenters call slide “speaker support” they are there to help the audience understand the words you say. If in doubt leave it out. The best slides have no words on them at all. Do not be tempted to do this step earlier.

8. Write your introduction

The person who introduces you should have a two or three sentence description – the object is to establish why the audience should listen to you, on this topic.

9. Rehearse some more

Your partner, lover, friends and relations should be sick to death of this by now, and giving you very helpful feedback.

10. Your Moment to Shine

As you walk to the stage you should know off by heart the opening paragraph and the closing words of your speech. You have with you a print out of your script. Your slides will be ready but you don’t need them. Breathe deeply, stand with your feet slightly further apart than usual, and enjoy your moment in the spotlight.

11. Wind down

After you deliver your speech lots of people will come and talk to you. If you’re happy with this that’s OK. Remember it’s also OK to go away for a little quiet time. Most of the things they say can be ignored (the praise and the negative comments) Remember the thing you wanted the audience to do in all the se conversations. 


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