The Presentation Planning Checklist
Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.
You're just about to deliver a really important presentation. Quite understandably, you're nervous about how it's going to go.
The problem is that you're not sure that you've thought of everything... What if you get up there, and realize that you've forgotten something really important?
To put together and deliver a great presentation, you need to pay attention to many small details. It's all-too-easy to overlook something important, especially if you're nervous about the outcome.
That's why it's useful to have a checklist of things to remember. The checklist below will remind you of all the details that you need to attend to before, during, and after, your presentation.
This checklist is adapted in part from "Business Communications: A Cultural and Strategic Approach," by Michael J. Rouse and Sandra Rouse.
- How much does your audience know about the presentation's subject? (Make sure that your presentation matches their knowledge level – don't make it too complicated or too simple for their needs.)
- Where and how will you present (indoors, outdoors, standing, sitting)? Will this affect how you need to prepare?
- Are you knowledgeable enough about the topic that you're covering in your presentation? If not, how will you build this knowledge?
- Do you need to visit the presentation room beforehand to get a feel for it?
- Does the presentation room have everything that you need? (For example, electrical supply, Internet access, projector screen, and so on.)
- Do you want to inspire your audience to act? If so, how are you going to do this?
Before you start preparing your presentation, you might find it useful to read our Communications Planning article. This helps you plan how to get your message across in the right way. You might also find our article on business story-telling helpful.
- Does your introduction grab your audience's attention? And does it need to explain your objectives?
- Do you follow this by clearly defining the points of the presentation?
- Are the main points in a logical sequence?
- Do these points flow well?
- Do the main points need support from visual aids or props?
- Does your presentation's conclusion summarize the presentation clearly and concisely?
- Is the conclusion strong?
- Have you tied the conclusion to the introduction?
- Is your presentation too complex? (It's easy to go overboard, especially when you want to impress - remember, keep it simple and focused.)
- Does your presentation contain any jargon? (Jargon can be confusing for many people, so make sure that you eliminate jargon from your presentation.)
As you're putting together your presentation, make sure that you use solid, accurate sources for any statistics that you'll be using.
- Are the visual aids easy to read/view and easy to understand?
- Are they tied into the points that you're trying to communicate?
- Can they be easily seen from all areas of the room?
- If you're using slides, do they all look consistent?
- Do all the slides use the same fonts? Are they easy to read?
- Have you included too much wording? (Remember, slides are meant to support points or concepts, not replace them. So, no sentences or paragraphs!)
- If you're representing an organization, do your visual aids and slides match your organization's branding?
- Do you have backup copies of key aids, just in case something goes wrong with your master copies?
- And have you prepared contingency plans in case your visual aids fail? For example, do you have spare data projector bulbs, just in case your existing bulbs blow?
- Do you have all parts of your visual aids – for example, have you remembered to pack power supplies as well as the equipment itself? And, if you're presenting in another country, do you have appropriate adapters?
- Have you practiced your presentation standing (or sitting, if applicable), paying close attention to your body language and posture?
- Have you rehearsed often enough to be able to speak smoothly and fluently?
- Have you practiced your presentation in front of others? Your practice audience can give you valuable feedback about your presentation.
You might find it helpful to divide your presentation up into sections and practice each individually. This will make it easier to memorize key points.
On the Day
- Do you have your slides, notes, and other visual aids in the right order?
- Are you dressed and groomed appropriately? (Make sure that this is in keeping with your audience's expectations.)
- Have you left enough time for travel and setting up?
- Have you checked your visual aids to ensure that they're working, and that you know how to use them?
- Do you know how to deal with nervousness? (Presentation nerves are very common, so learn how to manage presentation nerves to use that energy to your advantage.)
- During your presentation, are you making and maintaining eye contact with members of your audience?
- Have you made sure that your audience understands everything that you've covered? (Invite them to ask questions if you're unsure.)
- Do you need to follow up with any of your audience?
- Have you asked for feedback from your audience? Is there anything that you could learn, to improve your next presentation?
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