How To Prepare Quickly For a Short Presentation


A heart surgeon took his car to his local garage for a regular service, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic. “So tell me,” says the mechanic, “I’ve been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me..”

“Yes?..” says the surgeon.

“Well look at this,” says the mechanic, as he worked on a big complicated engine, “I check how it’s running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works good as new.. We basically do the same job don’t we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am – how do you explain that?”

The surgeon thought for a moment, and smiling gently, replied,”Try it with the engine running..”

Kind of like what you do.

You’re bringing in sales, working on processing of deals, worrying about pricing, monitoring your pipeline, making sure that closed deals are moving properly through the sales and production process, training new members of the sales team in the use of company systems and tools, adjusting your forecasting for the next quarter, supporting your sales team in pipeline management, managing the recurring daily, weekly and quarterly reporting needs of the team, working together with other departments to make sure that they have enough bandwidth to support your clients, attending office events, getting meetings organized, and at the same time trying to balance your work life with the time spent with family, friends, wife and the kids!

And now your boss wants you to give a presentation at an upcoming board meeting to share your secret to sales success! That sounds just like the surgeon that has to operate whilst the engine is running!

Where do you begin?

I have designed a template that I use when I put together content for my presentations that I am going to share with you. Download that template (Link at the bottom of this post) and use it to build your presentation. The two page pdf file has one page with the instructions in the template and the second page is blank so you can use it to enter notes and ideas.

presentation plan

How to use this template

This is the order in which to build your presentation using this template for maximum impact.

1. One big Idea and 3 key points (4)
2. Presentation Title (1)
3. Strong Opening (2)
4. Key Point details (5), (6), (7)
5. Conclusion (9)
6. Q & A (8)
7. Agenda (3)

Here are some of the things to take into account when building the content.

Think of your audience and the event.

This is to make sure that the tone of the speech resonates well with your audience at the event. You are marketing yourself with this speech and your job is to make sure that the audience gets what they came to receive from you. Depending on if the event is formal or informal, change the tone of the speech to match the event. Informal speeches allow us to be more down to earth and sprinkle in a bit more entertainment, stories and vernacular language. Formal speeches are, well more formal. Although you can still create an entertaining speech, the focus is on keeping it appropriate for the event. However, it will give you an opportunity to be more flowery with your language.

Start your speech with a strong opening.

A shocking statistic, humorous story, an appropriate analogy can jumpstart your presentation and get your audience to get attentive! Depending on the speech, it is sometimes a good idea to even hold off introducing yourself until after the opening of the speech. And for ideas on how to create a great title, refer to the “Just add Water” title templates in my free report “Vital Title – The How & Why of Presentation Titles”. If you do not have a copy of that awesome report, click here to get that Vital Title Report.

Weave stories and analogies around a theme.

Too many speeches and presentations are focused around the company that you represent. We have all seen presentations that start out with what your company does, the state of the industry, the features and benefits of your products and the excellent team and equipment that your company has that makes it so awesome! What these presentations fail to remember is that the audience just has one hope. Their hope is that you will think of two things. One, how to keep the presentation interesting and two, how will this presentation benefit them!

By coming up with a theme, you focus on the problems you can solve for our customers, you come up with creative ways to present that information, you talk about real people and real case studies that are told in the form of stories. For example, the theme could be how your marketing can benefit from using the “Power of 3″ and how your company uses it to help their clients.

Another example might revolve around how your business is like a Cruise ship. Sticking with this central theme can help the audience see how everything fits together, and allows you to repeat yourself by referring back to the theme: i.e., “So if the huge kitchen is our production floor and the 6 restaurants and bars are our distribution channels and the gasoline the ship uses is our cash flow, Who then are our customers?” We move away from the boring format I described earlier to a fresh approach that first asks the question,”How can I make this interesting and beneficial to my audience!”

Closing of your presentation

An important part of closing your speech is to summarize your key points. Your key points may be crystal clear in your mind; but may not be so in the minds of the audience. Which is why it is important to include a summary of your speech at the end.

Another technique to use is to ask yourself this question, “What do I want the audience to do at the end of my presentation?” If the goal of the presentation was to sell a product, have a special offer available at the end of the presentation. If your goal was to get people to sign up for a upcoming workshop, get their contact information and offer early registration discounts! If you want them inviting you again in the future, ask whether they’ll fill out a simple survey after the speech – this survey can ask questions that are useful for your own improvement (what they liked, what they didn’t, what topics they would like more information on, etc.) while also letting them know about other services (and related products) you have available.

The Q & A

Depending on the presentation, you may be expecting certain questions to come up. Make a list of the possible questions and spend a little time planning on how you will be answering those questions. If you have no questions thrown at you after the Q & A session begins, don’t move on to the conclusion immediately. Out of the questions you have prepared, bring up one or two of them and share with your audience to get them warmed up. “Last time I spoke about this topic, one of the biggest questions in people’s minds was about my timing. Let me tell you how I time my moves…”

In conclusion, make sure you’re not just giving a boring lecture, but that you’re providing statistics, stories, analogies, quotes and information that the audience is looking for. If they are there for knowledge, give them knowledge. If they came to be stimulated and inspired, give them stimulation and inspiration. Your audience expects a good speech that will keep them engaged. They want you to succeed. Give them what they want and they’ll be sure to support you!

Using the presentation plan template below, you will have a tool to put together a great presentation that will engage your audience and keep them interested.

If you liked this post, please spread the word by sharing on Facebook or twitter. The buttons are close by. Or give me a like. I would appreciate it very much. And if you know someone that will benefit from reading this post, send them a link. They and I will thank you for it! And lastly, if you are not on my mailing list already, sign up below, so you automagically get my blog posts, videos and other interesting snippets and downloads right in your mailbox! Comments?

Here is the link to Presentation Outline.pdf

If you enjoyed this article, get email updates (it's free).