Ensuring the Success of your Presentation
Ensuring the Success of Your Presentation
If the thought of presenting makes you a little nervous, you are not alone. Luckily, you can boost your confidence and deliver an impressive in-person or virtual presentation with a bit of preparation. One of the ways to produce a presentation is to follow the PATS model ― purpose, audience, thesis, and scope. Let’s take a look at these four elements and other ways to optimize the effectiveness of your presentation.
Why are you giving this presentation? Do you need to present instructions for an improved process? Are you persuading a group of people to take action? Defining why you are speaking as your first step will assist you in reaching your goal.
Every audience is different. Preparing a presentation for a room full of subject matter experts is much different from presenting to people who have no prior exposure to the topic. Senior leaders will likely have different questions than front-line staff, and public-facing presentations will not contain the same information as is shared with agency stakeholders. Tailor your approach and tone to your audience.
Much like drafting an essay, your presentation will need a thesis. Where purpose answers why you are presenting, your thesis guides how you present the information and what you want the audience to take away. If your purpose is to present a call to action, your thesis explains why that action should be taken and provides compelling evidence. Introduce your thesis statement early in your presentation and use data to support it. As you progress through the presentation and again in your closing, remind your audience of your thesis.
Is your presentation a deep dive into the details of a topic, or are you giving a 30,000-foot overview? Scope helps refine your talking points, presentation length, and the level of detail or evidence you need to include.
The PATS method is not a linear progression ― each element ties into the others. As you plot out each element, take a step back to see how they all fit together. Here are a few other aspects that will help you give an outstanding presentation.
Once you have used the PATS method to build your presentation, you should use relevant visuals such as slide decks, videos, data visualizations, photos, or graphic images to maximize its impact. Resist the urge to write everything you plan to say on your slides. Reading your slides, or expecting your audience to read them, does not make for an engaging presentation. Ensure that your fonts and colors are consistent and compliant with your agency or division guidelines. And perhaps most importantly, have someone who has not been looking at the presentation for hours on end review it for clarity and errors.
Test your camera, audio, visuals, and background image in advance when presenting virtually. Get a producer (e.g., a tech-savvy colleague) to moderate the chat and manage virtual platform functions such as hand raising, thumbs up, or survey tools to gather comments and questions.
Do not skip practicing your presentation. It is better to know that your presentation is too long or too short or that parts of it still need some work before you are in front of an audience. There is no substitute for a dress rehearsal, even if it’s in your living room.
Practice also helps you break away from reading a script. While notes are helpful to keep you on track, reading from a script will put your audience to sleep. Ensure that your presentation has smooth transitions and opportunities for people to ask questions unless you have asked them to hold their questions until the end. Keep your posture confident but relaxed, and use hand gestures strategically.
Take a few deep breaths and smile before you start. Remember, you were trusted to deliver this presentation ― the audience is eager to hear what you have to say.
Whether you are a novice at public speaking, want to improve your presentation skills, or are a seasoned public speaker looking to refresh your knowledge, Management Concepts offers a variety of courses that can help boost the effectiveness of your presentations. For example, Briefing and Presentation Skills, Persuasive Speaking, and our related Professional Skills courses will help you prepare for your next presentation and the next step in your career.