5 preparation tips for a successfull presentation

Presenting a project to the top management can bring a lot of benefits (yes you want them on board) but also some pitfalls when done wrongly. Five simple tips that will help you be 110% prepared for the presentation.

1. Have a backup plan for everything

What if your projector fails? Do you have a backup projector or maybe a flip chart to do your presentation? What if you are planning on a live demo of a website project and the server is down? Would be very embarrassing. There are two backup strategies:

  1. Create some screenshots and show them in a powerpoint presentation. This has as disadvantage that it's not very interactive, but it's better than nothing.
  2. Create an offline version of the website. There are several free tools available that are easy to use. If you are a linux geek you can also use wget (btw. 1.11 is having some windows authentication problems):

wget-1.10.2.exe -p -m -k -K -E http://www.mynewsite.com –http-user="username" –http-password="MyPassword"

Sit down and think what could go wrong and how likely it is that it will go wrong (don't forget about murphey's law -> "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong"). Then it's up to you if you are willing to take the risk or plan for backup. Very easy risk management.

2. Know where you are presenting

I just recently had to prepare for a congress where I was standing next to a table and had a live demonstration. While in preparation I was planning on using a projector so that more people could see the demonstration. I was under a wrong impression. Using a projector wasn't really possible, because there wasn't enough room. Fortunately I realized that the day before while setting up. We could then switch to big displays that were better suited for the task.

3. Know what you are presenting

Needless to say. You should know what you are talking about. There are many methods on how to get to know the content of your presentation (maybe you need to present slides you haven't prepared):

  • Dry run the presentation and record it on video.
  • Have some background information
  • Be prepared for some questions
  • Have little cards with keypoints

4. Know who you are presenting to

Is it the top management, project stakeholders or co-workers. This might have an impact on how you will dress and what your slides will look like. Obviously you are probably not going to hold a presentation in jeans and t-shirt when presenting to the top management. Likewise it might look strange if you are all dressed up and are presenting something to co-workers.

You're audience will also influence the content. The top management doesn't like small details but rather a bird's eye view on things. Project stakeholders on the other side are might be very interested in details as they might impact their interests.

5. Plan enough time

Don't schedule an other meeting to close to the presentation (neither before nor after). Rather use the time before the presentation to be on sight and get a feeling for your audience. Maybe you can chat with some people of the audience. On the other hand there might be delays in your presentation, maybe you are waiting for an important person, you don't want to be in a rush and stressed because you have to attend another appointment.