Congratulations! You’ve just been invited to give a presentation before your national association.
Securing that invitation is just the start. Now you need to spend some real energy on the preparation phase of your talk.
The Basics of Preparation
Preparation is vital. Before you even begin to craft your remarks, you need to obtain background information about the organization you plan to address. You’re looking for a solid idea of what issues are hot and who the key players are.
Then there is perhaps the most important ingredient—your audience. They are, after all, the reason you have been invited to speak. You need to learn all you can about them so you can reach their hearts and minds. Find out about such areas as:
- Primary audience (Business? Government? Non-profit?)
- Level of audience sophistication with regard to your topic
- Anticipated attendance
- Attendee list
Let’s spell out one more pre-presentation to-do list that will set you on a winning course. Make sure that you:
- Provide the organization with your bio and headshot. They will need these for publicity purposes and to introduce you to your audience.
- Advise the meeting organizer of any A/V needs.
- Bring any props you plan to use.
- Choose the most appropriate format (hint: never default to using slides for every presentation).
A New Day Dawns
Finally, the day of your presentation arrives. Everything is set, right? Well, not quite. One of the most important duties—and one that many speakers shirk—is to arrive at your venue at least one hour before “show time.”
Your arrival time allows you to double check that the facility has set up the logistical and technical requirements upon which you agreed. You don’t want to walk in the room at the appointed hour only to find out there is no screen available for your slides. Or that the flip chart with blank paper you requested is nowhere in sight. Or that the facility has not set out the correct number of chairs, or not arranged them in your preferred configuration.
Getting a handle on these preparation guidelines will put you on the road to successful presentations—presentations that will serve to deliver your message to the audiences that are most crucial to achieving your organizational goals. Here’s to your speaking success.