For Procrastinators: How to Overcome Presentation Preparation Paralysis


By Pam Terry

Have you ever been faced with preparing for a presentation and you didn’t know where to begin?  Or, you start and stop so many times that you just decide to quit and work on it later and find that you never go back – then the evening before, you are frantically trying to put together a presentation that ends up being mediocre at best?  You can stop spinning your wheels when developing a presentation by following this simple 5 step system that will help you prepare any type of presentation.

The more you prepare and practice, the more confident and compelling you will become.  Here are 5 easy, simple steps for developing any presentation:

Step 1 – Find Out About Your Audience

It’s vitally important to know what your audience is expecting and wanting.   Ask your meeting coordinator or call a couple of audience members directly.  If it’s your seminar, include a question in the registration asking what they would most like to gain from your talk.  The information you receive will be the freshest and most relevant research you could possibly do.  Bottom line is the first thing you need to do when preparing a presentation is to find out what you audience wants to hear.

Step 2 – Create Your Objectives

What are the objectives of your talk?  Always create your objectives – this is your second step and closely aligns with Step 1.  Write down all of your objectives.  If you want to get business from your presentation – be really clear about what you specifically want the outcome to be.  How will you get business?  Will you provide a way for people to sign up for a free consultation with you at the end?  Are you going to be selling your book, CD’s, etc.?   Do you want them to sign up for your mailing list?  Do you want to get testimonials for your marketing efforts?

Besides getting business from your presentation, what do you want the audience to get from your presentation?  Write that down too.  In other words, what will the audience leave with?  Then deliver that in your talk.

Step 3 – Create Three Main Points for Your Talk

By selecting only three main points, you will stay focused and be on time.  If you aren’t sure what your 3 main points should be, make a list of all your points and then start categorizing them.  Pretty soon, your 3 main points will emerge.   Three main points is about the limit of what people can process in a presentation.  You can either have sub points for each main point or you can have one or more main points be an entire story to drive a point home.  See Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford as a great example of 3 stories as main points.

Step 4 – Create an Attention Grabbing Introduction

Now you are ready to create your introduction.   Acknowledge your audience by thanking them for being there.  To engage them, either ask a question or make a bold statement.  A great technique:  ask the audience what they would like to know about the topic you are presenting – then write down their feedback on a flip chart – validate it – letting them know these are great points and that you will be covering all of these in your talk (then be sure to cover them).   This technique connects and engages the audience.   Share your objectives with your audience – including any offers you will be making at the end.

Step 5 – Create a Compelling Close

For your close, ask people what value they received – this helps people to think about what value they did receive.  When they share it out loud, it affirms the value and also creates value for others.    If you have an offer, let people know about it now.   A great offer to provide is free coaching or consulting and to have a simple form for people to check off if they want to be contacted to set up a 15 minute call.  This helps you to identify who really wants help in your area of expertise and can lead to more business and a satisfied new customer.

One of the best ways to create a compelling presentation is to be focused, provide lots of value and to end on time!    You can accomplish all of these by preparing and then practicing as much as possible.  Good luck and remember:  Speak Up to Stand Out  and Connect.

Find more tips on public speaking at   Pam Terry is a Speaker Coach and Trainer in Houston, Texas and can be contacted at or 832-276-4153.


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