Preparing for a Big Presentation: Allow Plenty of Time to Prepare Slides

Preparing for a Big Presentation:  Allow Plenty of Time to Prepare Slides
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As the title of this article, and of the series, implies, this is a BIG presentation.  It needs to cover a variety of related topics, often explaining difficult and complex topics in simple and clear language, aided by accompanying visuals that also add clarity.  Beyond the individual slides, which need to be honed until they are impeccable, the relationships among the slides and topics need to be integrated into a clear and comprehensive whole.  You’ll need plenty of time to do this – to collect the input from various stakeholders, to hone individual slides, and to integrate it all together. When you add that the day to day demands don’t stop just because you’re preparing a presentation, you need to get started plenty of time ahead in order to do this well.

This is the third of a series of four articles on “Preparing for a Big Presentation”, where we explore critical aspects of preparing for a big presentation – one where you show your command of the project from a stakeholder perspective, your team’s capabilities and readiness to deliver, and your organizational and communication skills.  This article, Part 3 in the series, “Allow Plenty of Time to Prepare Slides,” gets into the nuts and bolts of building the slides of information to be presented. Part 1, “Determine the Key Topics to Be Covered”, looks at the first steps of scoping the presentation to determine the primary topical areas to be covered. Part 2, “Involve Stakeholders as Early as Possible,” looks at the importance of gathering input from all stakeholder groups early in the preparation process.  Finally, Part 4, “Rehearse and Build Flow and Confidence”, gets you ready for the physical audience-facing aspect of the presentation to ensure it flows smoothly for you and clearly for them.  

Face it, it will take time to develop you presentation.  You are dependent on others…and you also need to leave time to allow the presentation to fall into place as details develop.  

Here are five (5) reasons why you need to allow lots of time…and how you need to use your time wisely:

  • Ensure ALL the relevant topics are covered – You may need to go through this a few times with everyone.  Stakeholders are not always in the ideal frame of mind when you need info, and you may need to ‘tease’ it out of them, which may take some time.
  • Gather input from the experts – As you nail down the topics, you need to also identify the sub-topics and details that need to be presented.  You’ll not only need to ‘discover’ these things, but will need to learn about them so that you can present well. Identify your experts, and spend time with them…and respect that they have ongoing work at the same time.
  • Hone input to make it presentable – As you gather input, you’ll surely find that it is in a raw form – not necessarily constructed to communicate your ideas, not integrated with other content, and not presentable in the right form.
  • Ensure message is clear - Check back with stakeholders with your honed messages and slides to ensure they still communicate the ideas accurately.  You will still require the buy in and backup of everyone who provided information, even after you have altered the content – hopefully acceptably to them.
  • Integrate into a contiguous whole – It will be a lot of work in the final phase to integrate your ideas and present them clearly.  Likely, some changes to content – what is written, diagrams, the order – sometime even adding or subtracting slides. Make sure you practice thoroughly to allow this process to take shape.  You’re ready only when you find you don’t need to make further changes. 

From my own experience, allow more time than you think you need!

Have you considered the nuances outlined above in planning the timeline for your presentation?

This Post is Part of the Series: Preparing for a Big Presentation

This series of four articles below explores the approach to building a successful presentation.

  1. Determine the Key Topics to Be Covered
  2. Involve Stakeholders as Early as Possible
  3. Allow Plenty of Time to Prepare Slides
  4. Rehearse and Build Flow and Confidence