by Adam Noar
We’re all about amazing presentations here at Presentation Panda – did our name give it away? We love providing you with tips, tricks, and dance moves to get you to that killer presentation that you’re proud of and feel like you can make that ultimate claim: that you’re good at presenting.
Sometimes, though, instead of a couple cool moves, you need the whole presentation game plan step-by-step … and that is what we have in store for you today!
To show you how to develop all-around presentation skills, including the steps to a successful presentation, we’re gonna break it down for you like a 90’s b-boy (you know, back when that was cool).
But before we into the details, we wanted to start off with an infographic provided to us from The Business Backer, that nicely summarizes the presentation creation steps what we are going to be talking about.
Here’s my take on the presentation creation steps from the infographic:
Step #1.) Define One Key Message You Want Your Audience To Remember
As much as you want your audience to be able to recite back what you said at the end, they’re not going to be able to. In fact, with the average attention span, they’ll only be able to remember about a quarter of it.
Don’t be discouraged, though! That just means you need to work around that. What is the one message that is most important – if they’ll literally only remember one thing you said, what do you want that to be?
Make that the focal point of your presentation and build around it. You may feel like you’re repeating yourself, but as long as you change up your delivery, you’re just reinforcing your core message to help it stick.
#2.) Frame Your Structure Into a Story
The next step to an effective presentation is to tell a story. You know the main message you want to get across – now you need to identify a good step-by-step way to explain it. Typically, a problem-solution type of story works best and will leave your audience satisfied at the end.
Begin with the problem: what is their pain point? What isn’t being done the right way? What is the source of the issue? Begin your story with that – it will hook in your audience and get them thinking about how that problem is affecting their life.
Move on to listing reasons why it’s a problem, and why you want to help them solve it. Finally, end strong with your solution to the problem, and all the reasons it’s a great resolution.
This story-telling style is going to keep your audience engaged, following along, and waiting eagerly for the solution at the end. Give it to them!
Step #3.) Write Your Main Points On Post-It Notes, Stick On a Wall and Review Them
It’s old-school, but it works! The work you’ve done in the previous steps by determining what your main message is, and what the surrounding points are, can take physical form in this step.
It really works best to get your points out in front of you, and Post-It Notes are a great way to do that. They can be written on, moved around, stuck and re-stuck to the wall (or maybe crumpled up and tossed in the corner if you’re having a bad day).
By putting them all together and thinking about how they flow, you’ll be able to alter your story until it’s exactly how you want it. It’ll also help you remember it better! So break out those Post-Its, slap them on the wall, and get ready to awkwardly explain that you aren’t actually a conspiracy theorist to anyone who stumbles into your office.
Step #4.) Use Metaphors to Illustrate Your Ideas
The same way that using the Post-Its as visual aids helped you in the last step, using metaphors will aid your audience in connecting with your story. Metaphors can be worked into the graphics of your presentation or into your talk – or both!
Look at your Post-Its and think about the main theme of your story. Allow that to guide you in brainstorming some metaphors. Is it about growth? Trees and other plants are a popular choice. Is it an amazing idea? A light bulb is an easily-recognizable cue. Focus on descriptive words that will transport your audience into your world.
Once you have a good list, go through and start thinking about how to work them in, and pick your favorites. Don’t force it, but use it to your advantage.
Step #5.) Use Visuals to Emphasize Key Points
This is a great tie-in to the above tip with metaphors – creating visual metaphors to really bring home your message is the best way to fully engage your audience in your presentation. You can see how easily this can be applied; in the slide where you reveal your idea, use a light bulb in your visual.
Icons are another clever way to do this. When you’re breaking out your message into individual points, think about a way you can distil that message into a simple visual, and create a little icon for it.
This can apply to way more than icons and graphics, by the way. Check out our tips for selecting images, which will make your presentation more cohesive and exciting. The right type of image can really bring home your message.
Step #6.) Use a Tool Like PowerPoint or Prezi to Present Your Information
As you’ve probably guessed, you really should not stand up there and try and deliver your presentation as a monologue. Unless you’re an extremely talented public speaker, that is not going to work out well.
You need to use a tool to present with. But what should you use? If you’re still wondering the about the technicalities of how to create a presentation, Prezi and PowerPoint are the two most common ones, and we have a breakdown here of why we personally prefer PowerPoint.
Either one will work fine, though, so we aren’t judging you (much) if you prefer the style of Prezi. They will both help you achieve success if you understand the rules and secrets to designing an amazing presentation.
Ultimately, the most important thing to do is to become familiar with the software you’re planning on using, and use all the tools at your disposal to create a successful presentation.
Step #7.) Practice Your Amazing Presentation Using Bullet Points on Prompt Cards
You may feel like you know your presentation inside and out by now (and that’s good!), but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to present. Sorry!
First, you have to practice.
Our favorite way is pretty old school: bullet points on flash cards. We like it for a lot of reasons: it helps you distil your points into short cues, it makes you more confident the more you practice, and will make you sound more natural the more you practice.
You just have to avoid doing one thing: do NOT write down your speech word for word on the cards. This won’t help you memorize it, and it’ll sound rehearsed and boring. One or two points per card are enough!
We do recommend taking up the flash cards with you in case you draw a blank, but try not to rely on them. You want to make sure you’re connecting with your audience and conveying your story, and the best way to do that is to make sure you sound natural (and not like you’re reading off prompt cards).
And what’s the best way to sound natural? You got it. Practice.
Step #8.) Open Your Chest and Arms and Keep Your Back Straight (Like a Super Hero)
This is a really important tip, and like the last one is about oral presentation best practices.
Your audience will be picking up a lot of visual cues from your body language, particularly posture and hand and arm movements. You want to project confidence so that your audience trusts you and believes your message.
The two most important things to keep in mind are to keep your chest and arms open, and to keep your back straight. If you’re hunching down, it will make you look nervous and unconfident. Stand up straight – you’ve done all the work and your presentation is amazing! Show the audience that you know and believe that.
The other cue is arm movements. Try and keep your arms back, and generally not move them around too much. It’s great to do for emphasis, but too much is distracting. Keeping them mostly still will convey to the audience that you are calm and confident – and who doesn’t do that?
Studies have shown that the best way to be confident during a presentation is to conduct a series of “power poses” before your presentation even starts! You can read more about this public speaking technique of “power posing” here.
Step #9.) Make Eye Contact with People in the Audience
Another visual cue your audience will be picking up on is your eye contact. It can be hard to make eye contact when you’re imagining everyone in their underwear, so skip that tip and try these:
Eye contact will help your audience feel connected to you, and (again) project confidence. If you’re presenting to your boss, or to the board, make sure to talk mostly to those people. Spread your gaze around, but focus on the “big guns”.
If you’ve just got a large audience, pick a couple people that look like your friends in different parts of the crowd and tell your story to them! They won’t be able to tell who exactly you’re looking at, so that whole area will feel more engaged in your presentation.
This is also a great way to give a good presentation without being nervous – pretend you’re not! Keeping eye contact will give off that image of confidence that you want, which will actually lead to you being more confident – fake it til you make it can really work!
Step #10.) Don’t Speak Too Fast or Too Slow
Nerves can make us to silly things – like speak at the speed of light, or like we’re sounding out each word for the first time. If you’ve followed our tips so far, you should hopefully not be feeling too nervous, but public speaking can freak a lot of people out, so we get it.
Speed of speech is really something you’re going to want to watch when you’re making your presentation. If you’re rattling off your ideas as fast as you can, your audience isn’t going to be able to keep up, and may not even be able to understand what you’re saying in the first place.
If you’re going at a turtle’s speed, you’re going to come across as having low energy and maybe even bored – and we know you didn’t put in all that work to look bored!
This is something you can tackle during practice, and even make a note on one of your cards reminding you to breathe and relax. If you really want to punch up your style, you can even manipulate your speed for effect – try slowing down a little during the really important points, and speeding up a little during a joke.
Step #11.) Start and Finish With Your Key Message
You’ve heard it before: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you said you were going to tell them, and tell them what you’ve told them. As silly as it sounds, it’s good advice!
Presentations can be hard, and your audience might need some help staying on track. A good intro will orient them to the structure of your presentation, and they’ll know what they’re going to hear. This will make them feel at ease, and it’ll be easier to focus on the details.
Then, of course, tell them.
Finally, a good conclusion will help you drive the point home. If it’s a solution, repeat it again, and reiterate the best benefits it has to offer. It’ll sound repetitive to you, but your audience will appreciate the help!
Let’s wrap this up!
Knowing how to make a good powerpoint presentation can be tough. There are a lot of steps, and if it’s already feeling like a big deal, starting can feel overwhelming.
We hope that this list of how to create a presentation step-by-step will help you know what to focus on, and break it into manageable chunks! It’s important to focus on the mechanics of creation as well as presentation skills, which is why we’ve included both.
We also love tips on how to make these steps easier – do you have any? Did we miss a crucial step that you never skip? Let us know in the comments below!