A structure for your presentation - when it's tomorrow!

How to prepare an overnight presentation.

Richard Tierney has tips for that moment when you realise the presentation is in the morning, and you’ve nothing prepared.

#1 Be in the right state.
You’ve arrived at the hotel, the conference is tomorrow and you haven’t prepared your presentation. Call room service. No one does well in a stressful situation on an empty stomach.
#2 Define the Key Message.
Your success on stage tomorrow depends on this one thought. Write it down. Pin it up somewhere where you can see it; this is going to get messy.
#3 Gather Supporting Facts:
Write down all the things you can think of, each one on a separate piece of paper. Post-It notes work well; I find those little pads of hotel notepaper useful. Now, pick your top three.
#4 Make a story.
How do these three facts tell the main message you have? Imagine this: You meet an old friend for a drink. This friend knows nothing, and casually asks: “What do you really mean by that?” Pay close attention to the answer.
#5 Get specific.
I highly recommend writing out your speech in full. If it works better for you just list topic headings on 3×5 cards, or scamp it out as a mind map. Whatever floats your boat. Read it through out loud a couple of times and see how long it takes. Adjust accordingly.
#6 Make a FEW slides.
You need five slides:
Your name and the title of your talk
Point One
Point Two
Point Three
Your key message
Only add more if you have a really good reason.
#7 Edit.
Fact: We remember pictures, we do not remember text. Therefore: Show – don’t tell. If you already have a prepared slide deck you may like to use a little-known function: the delete button. Now you have a story to tell, and you have a memorable, terse, set of slides to help you tell that story.
#8 Rehearse.
Time to rehearse again, with slides this time. There’s a theory that one can over rehearse; it’s true but you are nowhere near that point. Run through until it goes well, then go to bed. You need your sleep and the presentation will – magically – embed itself whilst you sleep.
#9 Hydrate.
Nerves are just nature’s way of saying we’re excited. By keeping your message simple, your objective clear and removing distracting slides you have minimised this. A dry mouth helps no one. Keep a bottle (not a glass) of still water with you at the podium.
# 10 Objective.
Above all, remember where you are going. Then you won’t get lost. Stage fright can make you think the worst of people. Your audience has come to hear you because they believe you have something worthwhile to say. They want you to succeed. Enjoy.
Richard Tierney is the author of The Introverted Presenter


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