efficient presentation

How to save time when preparing a presentation: Preparation Tips

Read time: 6 minutes

Executive Summary

How to Save Time Preparing a Presentation

  • Begin preparation early, even without complete data.
  • Cater your presentation to the audience’s personality style.
  • Scope out a draft outline (SAS) to save time on slide creation.
  • Prepare for objections by addressing them upfront.

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People waste too much time, often last minute on the preparation of PowerPoint slides.

The preparation should be done in advance and it can be done quickly! So instead of dragging out your PowerPoint and writing slides an hour before you’re live, take note of these top tips to help you save time, deliver presentations with more clarity and get better results!

Begin your presentation preparation well in advance

  1. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need all the latest data before you can begin. In 99% of cases that just simply isn’t true. It is likely you know the main gist of your “story” already or at least you know enough to create a rough outline structure which we call theSimply Amazing Structure (SAS).
  2. If there are sections you really don’t know yet, include them and leave them as question marks to come back to later.
  3. If you want to understand what your preferred preparation style says about you take a look at this blog!

Think about who you are presenting to

  1. What Personality Style bias is your audience? Are they more likely to be results orientated? sociable? caring or information? Read more about these different types and what audience want in this blog and in our book High-Performance Presentations available on Amazon.
  2. If you are presenting to more detailed types (like engineers or accountants) then you’ll need to balance your content. Keep the big picture framework, but know thedetails are important for that audience too. Generally, senior management audiences at an annual update will be more interested in the big picture. Of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t ask a detailed question.
  3. Consider if any of your content is controversial or might raise any objections with anyone in the audience. If so you will want to have addressed that objection BEFORE it even arises.

Scope out a draft outline or SAS

We teach this on our Present Like A Pro presentation training programme. Once you know what you are doing, this may take 15-60 mins for a 1-2 hour presentation. The time will be well invested and save you time later especially on the slide creation.

  1. Spend a few moments thinking of the audience and what is in it for them. Why do they want to listen to this? Give 3 short reasons/motivators
  2. Next, begin with the middle in mind. Skip forward in time, and imagine how you want the audience to behave after your talk
  3. Next in the WHAT section, construct your main content to align with the result in the HOW. Either do three points from one key topic well or an overview of three topics well. Ensure you time your presentation so you only cover as much content as you have time for. It can be tempting to tell the whole story no matter what time length you have.
  4. You can repeat your key points and illustrate them in different ways as you progress through the content. People say it takes between 3 and 21 times to remember a message so at least 3 repetitions is a good idea (not sure about 21 in one talk though!)

One of our clients Helen Hicks – Head of Customer Service & Marketing said “…I have used the structured approach several times and I recently had to prepare PowerPoint presentations (3 versions) in collaboration with the sales team and the process was easy, quick and painless. It helped that we were all on the same wavelength.”

Always be ready for objections

  1. Ideally, address issues before they arise, the WHAT IF section of the SAS help with this because you list all the potential questions the audience might ask. Then you can say “I know what you might be thinking – how can we afford this new investment – well…”
  2. It is much better that you address the elephant in the room (or deal with it beforehand) rather than leave it until the end at question time. Then you risk running out of time and looking like you hadn’t even considered the obvious issues!
  3. Always be prepared for any question! Stay knowledgeable on topical issues and build a stock of relevant case studies, stories and statistics in case you need them anytime “off the cuff”

Think about how you can influence even before the presentation

  1. Where possible if it’s a key meeting then speak to some key members or influencers in advance of the business presentation. If you want to take the lead show experienced members your proposed outline (SAS) and ask for feedback. Ask about style, timing, personalities etc.
  2. Consider if you can save presentation time by giving some pre-presentation reading or handouts if appropriate.

Ideally, you’ll have time later down the line to run through your SAS and practise it.

You can save hours of practise time by just practising the structure and flow, not the content (after all it’s very likely you know the content very well. If not, just practise the small chunks you don’t know, not the whole presentation!)

If you don’t have time to practise the SAS, assuming it is appropriate you can just take in you’re one page of notes & go from there.

Finally, if you need to design slides you can do so quickly (or delegate it to someone else) because you are so clear on what you do and don’t want to say.

  • “It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”* – Paul Bear Bryant

There’s more detail in our book High-Performance Presentations on how to prepare more efficiently and effectively in order to reduce your stress and get better results from your presentations!

Author: Dee Clayton

Dee Clayton - Simply Amazing TrainingDee Clayton, an acclaimed coach and winner of the prestigious Overall National UK NBW Award in 2022, has over 30 years of experience in communication. With over half of her career as an author, mentor, and trainer. Dee offers a distinctive blend of skills and insights. Her mission is clear: to empower high-performing individuals to excel further, while guiding their teams to unprecedented success. Connect with Dee via LinkedIn.

Posted by Dee Clayton on 29 Jan 2020

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