Have you been invited to present to your board, staff, a potential client or an industry group? This can be a great opportunity for you. However, when you sit down to put your presentation together, do you know where and how to start? Do you know how to craft a presentation that will impress and meet the objectives that have been set?

Open a new document, copy and paste these questions and answer them first. Please, don’t open PowerPoint/Keynote just yet!

Why and what?

Clarify the context in which you will present to ensure your presentation fits into the rest of the event. This will also help you to tailor your presentation.

  1. What’s the overall objective of the event/meeting? Is it information sharing? Are decisions being made?
  2. Why have you specifically been invited? What particular knowledge or information do you have? What perspective are you bringing to the group?
  3. What else is happening in the meeting? Are there presentations before you? Are the participants under time pressure? Are there big decisions to be made?
  4. Where are you on the agenda? Are you early in the meeting or later? Is the meeting hours or days long?
  5. How much time do you have to present? Do you need to include time to ask and answer questions or for interruptions?


Be clear about who will be in your “audience” to ensure that you tailor your presentation to their needs.

  1. Who’s going to be in the room? Why are they there?  What’s their role?
  2. What do the participants already know about your subject matter? Why should they care about what you’re talking about?

You have a symbiotic relationship with the audience. Without them, there’s nothing for you to do. Without you, they have no reason for being there. So you’re dependent upon one another to pull this thing off.

Peter Coughter


Have the objective of your presentation clear in your mind before you start crafting the message. This will help you include only the information you need to and ensure the participants have all the information they need.

  1. What do you want the participant to think, feel or do following your presentation? Do you need a decision to be made (e.g. to accept, reject or approve your project)?


The body of your presentation leads to and contributes to your objective.

  1. What are the elements that will lead the participants to think, feel or do what you want them to?
  2. What information do you need to provide to make that happen? What hard facts or data is necessary? How much context do you need to provide?

Opening and Closing

People remember the openings and closings of presentations so make them impactful. Using stories, quotes, anecdotes or statistics are all powerful ways to get the participants’ attention and make your message memorable.

  1. How can you open your presentation to grab the participants’ attention and frame the presentation in a captivating way?
  2. How can you close your presentation so that it leaves the participants clear on the “call to action” / objective of the presentation?

Supporting Information

Think about what information can be provided before, during and after your presentation and in what format.

  1. What information can you provide in advance? Is there background information that you can provide that would help to frame your presentation?
  2. Would a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation help to support your presentation?
  3. What information can you provide following the presentation? Do you need to provide a handout, or to follow up with more information by email?

Preparing an excellent presentation takes time and effort. By answering the above questions before you start writing your presentation, you’ll be sure to stay on task and create a tailored, prepared and professional presentation, no matter the situation.

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