According to speaking consultant, Lilyan Wilder (1999), two of the greatest myths about delivering oral presentations are that you’re better off “winging it” and that good speakers are “naturals.”

In order to give an effective presentation, it is necessary to prepare and practice, practice, practice. Despite the need to prepare, one of your goals still should be to sound spontaneous and comfortable while delivering your message in a clear, organized, and stimulating fashion. The information below should help you achieve this goal and will be covered in detail in this and future blogs:


There are a few steps you need to take before writing your presentation, including thinking about who your audience is, what the expectations for the speech are, and selecting an appropriate topic.

PART ONE -  Analyzing the situation

                         Choosing a topic and a focus

                          Researching the topic -If you are presenting something that you’ve already written, then this step won’t require much work. Otherwise, you’ll need to follow the same procedures as with writing and narrowing down a topic as you may have done for an essay.

PART TWO – Organizing and writing the speech


PART THREE – Practicing the speech and handling logistics
There are a number of details to prepare for in advance of delivering your presentation.

                               Phrasing the speech – presentation requires different language and phrasing than a written document. A presentation is a dialogue. It should sound natural and be somewhat conversational.

PART FOUR – Managing your stage fright

PART FIVE – Visual aids

PART SIX – The big event
It’s important to present yourself and your material in a polished, yet comfortable, fashion.

PAART SEVEN – Web sites of Interest
I  have identified a number of Web sites offering information about preparing oral presentations and related issues.


(a) Analyzing the situation

If you’ve been given the topic, run throuh and outline of what you will be covering with the person who hired you, if they not heard you speak before.  You don’t want any suprises.  I often write back and forth to the client and talk to them on the phone before giving the speech.

If you are told to write a speech the above applies as well as taking into consideration your audience.  You can actually pole some of the audience members ahead of time as to their particular concerns regarding that topic.  You can get a list of interested parties and willing people from the HR people. 

Relating your material to information your audience is already familiar with will demonstrate your interest in them.

Know how much time you have, check out the venue to know if you will need a mike or what the acoustics are like in the room, and how many people will be in the audience. These facts will help determine the depth of your talk, the visual aids you can use, and the environment for your presentation.

(b) Choosing a topic and a focus
If you work in an organization and your boss tells you to speak on a particular topic,  or a group you’ve spoken to before wants to have you talk on a different subject, you can still make decisions about what direction you’re going to take. Try to relate your topic to current issues, whether they are  in your city, or in the world. Timeliness can make a presentation more interesting to your audience.

In order to focus on a topic, follow these steps:

Determine your general goal, e.g., to talk about recycling in the city.

Develop a precise objective, e.g., to instruct people about the recycling facilities and programs in your  city.

Develop a one-sentence summary, e.g., There are many recycling facilities in y0ur city that are not fully used.

Develop a title, e.g., The Underuse of your city’s Recycling Facilities.

Although there may be some overlap, try to decide what your main goal will be. This will help give your direction and consistency.  Althugh well known, the following are reminders I never tire of and check off my list to see how thorough I have covered each, before I write.

  • Interest
  • Inform
  • Persuade
  • Motivate

(c) Researching the Topic
Collect more information than you think you need. As you prepare your presentation, you will whittle away at your notes and tighten your focus.

Read through your finished notes and label each section with a number or word that tells you where each thought fits into your outline. Then, when you start to flesh out your presentation, you can quickly skim and organize your notes.

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