Planning Your Presentation – Step one: The Purpose

“The whole purpose of planning and preparation is to mitigate the uncertainty, to take the fear out of it so there’s not chaos.”

Frances Townsend

Have you planned your presentation sufficiently, thoroughly and carefully?


You need not spend hours doing this. A few minutes spent on planning, will make a huge difference in how you prepare for and finally deliver your next presentation.

Following are some factors to consider when establishing the purpose of your presentation.

When thinking about your presentation’s purpose or focus, answer this question:

“What do I want this audience to know, think, feel or do differently as a direct result of my message?”

On one end of the continuum you may wish to purely increase their knowledge on a topic. Purely providing information (facts/data/features/steps) may be the appropriate strategy to achieve this.

On the other end of the continuum you may wish to impel your audience to certain observable actions i.e. get them to demonstrate specific behaviours and activities which are measurable. For example, your purpose could be for your audience to use a specific application more frequently and accurately. In this case, your strategy will have to include the correct information, supported with an emotional appeal/reason for them to change their behaviour. They have to be able to see how this change will benefit them directly. An emotional appeal need not be overly dramatic. Important statistics delivered interestingly; examples of previous successes presented as proof and stories told with passion very often enable listeners to make emotional connections for themselves. E.g. “This application will save you on average 20 minutes every time you have to produce a report. Having to produce 5 reports per week, using this application means you’ll have an extra hour and a half per week to use as you wish. Instead of trying to munch on a lunch-time sandwich at your desk trying to get these reports ready, you may now have time to go out for a decent lunch.”

Before starting to prepare for your next presentation, answer this question: “What do I want my audience to know, think, feel or do differently as a result of my message?”

Your answer will articulate your presentation’s purpose and it will drive the rest of your preparation and delivery approach towards an effective and impactful direction. Test everything you consider to include against this to ensure your stay on task.


Look out for my next post: Phase One – Plan: Step Two – Research your Audience.

About Rolene
Independent Consultant specializing in Sales Messaging (including Presentation Literacy), Methodologies and Coaching Skills

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