Planning Makes Presentations Effective: by Dan Davenport

Created: Friday, February 1, 2013, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 am

Large and small companies today express themselves in many ways, including presentations. Sometimes well, sometimes not. The best way to make sure ideas are understood is to organize goals and thoughts before attempting to create a presentation. As any good builder would tell you, you need good plans to create a good home.

A simple process helps you get your presentation started off right. You’ll organize and unify thinking about what must be accomplished. The output of the process makes an excellent “creative brief” to pass on to non-staff production and writing people to make sure the desired result makes it through production and to the audience. The time spent early in the planning stages of a project creating solid answers to these questions yields better chances of meeting your presentation goals.

Often, a quick survey of the audience prior to answering these questions provides the best insight into where the actual problems are. This also provides a solid baseline against which the success of the presentation can be measured — paraphrasing Lord Acton, “If you didn’t measure it, you didn’t do it!”


  1. What is the subject?
    It could be hard goods like cameras, copiers, luggage, fruit cocktail, etc., or it can be concepts and ideas such as incentives, marketing strategies, or sales programs. Even ideas like companies or groups whose services are being sold to potential clients and customers.

  2. What key information is available now?
    Preliminary information sheets, press releases, brochures, photos, tour itineraries, directives, procedure outlines, marketing insight, sales guides, etc. fill this need. As this is critical information, everything must be made available to production staff immediately.

  3. The Two-Minute Drill. If you had to get an audience to understand the key points of this program in two minutes or less, what would you stress in that brief time? Be specific!
  4. What additional relevant information is critical to understanding the issue?
  5. What specific demonstrations of quality and reliability support the product or program?
  6. Where does this product or concept fit in the competitive marketplace?
  7. How do the strengths/weaknesses of your product or concept, and competitive products fit the market? What do we have that they don’t? What do they have that we don’t?
  8. Why would customers want our product or idea instead of our competitors?
  9. Historical perspective… what in the company’s or the industry’s history was the logical precursor to this?

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