Steps in writing presentations: Developing Visual Aids and Practicing

We’ve covered a lot of other steps in writing a presentation already. It’s only after you’ve worked on (or at least given some thought to) each of them that you should consider creating what many people mistakenly think of as their “presentations.”

Developing Visual Aids

After you’ve created a script for yourself you’re finally at the point where you can start developing slides and other materials that will act as the visual aids for your talk. You might have come up with some ideas for visuals during your brainstorming sessions or as you developed your ideas, but this is the point where we suggest you might actually fire up PowerPoint for the first time.

That certainly doesn’t mean that you have to use slides, however. Defaulting to slides that look just like those you see in every other presentation is probably the least effective thing you can do. Consider whether you can do away with slides and rely on other kinds of exhibits, a demo, or props. Can you make your interactions with your audience the focus of your whole presentation?

If you do use slides, think about how you can minimize your reliance on them. Whatever you wind up doing, make sure that your visual aids serve a purpose that supports your objective; don’t include them just because they’re expected.

Practice

Finally it’s time to rehearse your talk. Any presentation that requires you to stand up in front of an audience deserves at least a little bit of practice to make sure that you’re ready for the real thing. But that doesn’t mean that you need to commit a huge amount of time to rehearsing. You can approach it on several different levels of scale, everything from simply running through your main ideas in your head to recording a full dress rehearsal in a room with a live audience.

Not every presentation requires a lot of practice, but you don’t want to find yourself struggling in front of your “real” audience as you try to recall your own presentation. I can almost guarantee that any presentation you’ve found memorable and engaging, no matter how spontaneous it looked, involved a fair amount of rehearsal.

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