5 Steps to a Brilliant Presentation

In any occupation, chances are you have been approached by your boss, at one time or another, to give a presentation. I certainly understand that giving a presentation ranks right up there with having root canal surgery. But there are certainly ways to help alleviate the stress associated with this traumatic event. There are actionable steps that will help you get through your presentation successfully and remain gainfully employed.

Step 1 – Prepare Your Material

This is first because it should be. Nothing alleviates stress more than knowing, inside and out, what you’re going to talk about. Doing the research, and gathering the information needed for the presentation, should be your #1 priority.

In fact, if you are giving a presentation, it is understood that you are the authority on the topic. More often than not, you will know the topic better than anyone else in the room. Just that fact should help you get through it with a well-informed confidence.

Step 2 – Create an Outline

Some people like to write the whole presentation out first, which is fine. But, when you are ready to give the presentation, you should use index cards with bullet points, rather than a document that is completely written out. Chances are you are using overheads or PowerPoint to assist with the presentation. You may already have the bullet points on the slides, which makes it easier to speak to.

Since you know the material (see step #1), just use the bullet points for an outline to keep you on track. No one wants to listen to someone who reads the whole thing from a script. For one thing, it’s boring. Another is that your audience may make the assumption that you’re not prepared, which doesn’t bode well for your presentation.

Step 3 – Practice

Yes, I know, this one is obvious, but it cannot go unstated. Being a member of Toastmasters, the international organization devoted to public speaking, I know how important it is to practice a speech or a presentation. I know of some people who have practiced for a presentation while they are working on the assembly line at their job. Others may be practicing while running on a treadmill at the gym. If you want to give your presentation to your dog, that is cool too.

Simply repeating the words over and over really helps you get over those nervous jitters about speaking out loud. One thing that you want to also do is time yourself. This had been drilled into me at my Toastmasters meetings because we are very concerned with staying within time boundaries. If you don’t have a stopwatch, there are online timers that you can use that will help you stay within the time allotted.

Step 4 – Visualize Success

After practicing your presentation, visualize positive responses from your audience and your boss. See yourself speaking with confidence as you know the material and are imparting important information to your audience. One quote that I use when it comes to life and to giving a presentation is “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” If you look at giving a presentation as a positive event, rather than an ordeal, you may find that you might even enjoy the experience.

Think of it as personal growth rather than a chore that you are dreading.

Step 5 – Solicit Feedback

When you are ready to give the presentation, perform a dry run for your peers, if at all possible. Ask them for constructive criticism. In Toastmasters, after we give a speech, there is an evaluator who also gives positive feedback and recommendations for improvement. You may be doing or saying something that takes away from the presentation, but you weren’t aware of this fact.

Maybe you were using the words “ah”, “so”, “you know”, or “again” excessively. I actually counted 53 times that my Human Resources manager said the word “again” at a half hour presentation. Do you think that took away from the material she was presenting? Absolutely. If you know these things ahead of time, you can make positive changes and refine the presentation based on this feedback.

We all know it can be difficult giving a presentation. But if you follow the steps outlined here you just might find that this dreaded, anxiety-ridden, task can end up being a positive, fulfilling, and gratifying experience of personal growth.

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  1. Michael Edward on the 18th February

    Thanks for the post. Joining Toastmasters and finding other opportunities to speak before a group. This helps to build confidence in yourself to be able give a presentation. So, when the boss does ask you to give that important presentation you can control those nerves and deliver a brilliant presentation.

    • Bob Bessette on the 18th February

      Hi Michael,
      That day when the boss asks you to give that presentation will come. It’s best to be prepared. Thanks for commenting.


  2. Michael Edward on the 18th February

    Thanks for the post. Joining Toastmasters and finding other opportunities to speak before a group. Starting off with a brief presentation to a small group of people also helps to build confidence in yourself to be able give a presentation. So, when the boss does ask you to give that important presentation you can control those nerves and deliver a brilliant presentation.

  3. Rich Driscoll on the 18th February

    Great advice. We may know this intuitively, however when it comes to preparing a talk we often still don’t do these essential items … the busy procrastinator in us. It’s good to see it in print. Sage advice to follow.

    • Bob Bessette on the 18th February

      Hi Rich,
      It’s a fairly straightforward formula but if you leave out one of the steps, it could pose problems. The hard part is, as you allude to, is taking the time to perform each step. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  4. MAusborn on the 18th February

    This is a very helpful article.
    Step # 3 is the most important tip in my opinion.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Bob Bessette on the 18th February

      I think they are all important but, I agree, if you were going to rank them I think preparation and practice should be right at the top. Thanks for the comment.


  5. wahed on the 18th February

    good work.
    thank a lot.

    • Bob Bessette on the 20th February

      Thanks very much for reading.


  6. peach on the 18th February

    Thanks for sharing this. This should come in handy in the future.

    • Bob Bessette on the 18th February

      Giving presentations can be a very rewarding experience and it allows you to stand up to fears. You can certainly overcome it with some work and diligence. I wish everyone believed that they could give a presentation, if needed.


  7. Ben on the 19th February

    Step zero: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! You could roll this into step 1, but knowing your audience and tailoring your presentation to be engaging to them is key. You put together the most killer presentation, but if it doesn’t engage your audience, you could have done better.

    • Bob Bessette on the 20th February

      Great point Ben! You are correct. I should roll that one into Step #1 because that should come under preparation. I agree entirely. Thanks for your input…


  8. Nakul Sharma on the 13th August

    Easy way to understand through given steps.

    All the best
    May God bless you

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