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How to create a presentation

Be prepared

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If you want to be guaranteed a great presentation on the day, you don't want to leave anything to chance. If the venue for your talk has only an overhead projector, your fantastic PowerPoint presentation will never see the light of day! Remember:

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Luck favours the prepared mind

Louis Pasteur

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There are some practical issues that you need to consider to ensure your talk goes to plan on the day. Of course you will need to know the location of your talk and you will also need to consider questions such as:

It's really useful if you can practice your talk in the venue, this way there will be no unpleasant surprises!

Activity: The venue - 30 minutes

1. Imagine you are writing to or about to telephone the person organising your talk.

2. Prepare a list of questions to ask about the venue. Remember to ask about what equipment will be available and what you are responsible for taking with you, and when.

3. Now either telephone, write to or meet the appropriate person to ensure your questions are answered.

Another tactic to help ensure that your presentation runs smoothly on the day is to make a list of everything that could go wrong, and create a plan of how to deal with each problem. Then, if something does go wrong, you will be well prepared to deal with it.

Activity: Planning to overcome problems - 30 minutes

1. Write a list of all the potential problems that could occur during (or just before) your presentation. Examples include forgetting a USB pen with your presentation on it or being late.

2. Now plan what you would do if any of these problems happened or plan to avoid them. For example, email a copy of your presentation to yourself, take an earlier bus to the venue.

How did you do?

Do you feel confident that with the exception of 'acts of god' you can overcome any problems on the day of your presentation? If not, you may wish to spend some more time on this activity.

Something else that will require careful consideration are questions from the audience. Not understanding the questions you are asked is a very common problem; your questioner knows what they mean, but they can't articulate it clearly. If you are asked a question you don't understand, you could ask them to rephrase the question or try to clarify by rephrasing the question that you think they are asking.

Luckily it is possible to be prepared for most questions.

Activity: Prepare for questions - 30 minutes

1. Read through your presentation and make a list of all the questions you could be asked.

2. If you practised your talk in front of an audience, did they have any questions?

3. Plan how you would answer each question.

4. If you have time, you might like to put a couple of visual aids together (e.g. a couple of Power Point slides) which answer these questions.

5. There is no shame in not knowing all the answers; if you really don't know - just say so!

How did you do?

Do you feel confident that you can answer most questions on the day of your presentation?

If not, you may wish to spend some more time on this activity.

Recommended Further Reading

You're almost ready to give your presentation, there is just one last thing to do. The next section will give you some tools to learn how to relax when giving your presentation.

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