A Successful Presentation

Based on my experience, there are a number of key guiding principles to preparing a successful presentation:

Know and understand your audience:

How well do they know the subject?

What do they need to hear to be convinced?

Develop a logical and cohesive structure for the presentation:

These can vary greatly, depending on the subject and particular situation.

However, elements I favour are:

Tell the audience upfront what you will tell them, tell them it, and then tell them what you have told them. Leave them with a handful of key messages at the end.

A good presentation tells a story and should be organised as such.

Anglo Saxons respond well to an order that poses a question, provides an answer, and then provides the analysis supporting the answer. They can get frustrated waiting too long to hear a conclusion.

Do not overcomplicate:

Audiences have a limited span of attention and there is a limit to the amount of information they can absorb quickly, particularly if the subject is unfamiliar to them, so:

Keep slide content relatively simple; diagrams/pictures can often be more powerful than words. Besides, if an audience is busy reading, they will not be listening to what you have to say.

When presenting, say something which clarifies/expands on what is presented on the screen. Nothing is more boring than listening to someone just reading out something they can read for themselves.

Appropriate use of humour can be a definite plus and help get the audience on your side from the outset.

Be prepared and relaxed:

If you know your subject well and are prepared for questions that might arise, you will appear relaxed and confident. This will make you even more convincing.


Of course, there is much more than this involved in developing and presenting a successful presentation, but following these guiding principles, in my view, will get you most of the way there.

© Edward Archer 2016