Knowing your audience
An effective PowerPoint presentation tells a story in a simple, straightforward way with as little words as possible. However, the way you tell this story is heavily dependent on who your audience will be. Think of a typical fairy tale story. Most of them begin with “Once upon a time,” then, depending on the audience, the story takes you through some sort of adventure, followed by a memorable ending or moral to the story. Your presentation starts with a broad focus first (once upon a time), then, as you continue to tell your story, you narrow it down, while keeping your audience’s perspectives at the forefront, until the memorable end, which is your conclusion.
The planning and development of a presentation is an iterative cycle can take several weeks or several hours, depending on how well you know your topic, and how well you know your audience. Each iteration focuses on simplicity while clarifying the message/argument that you want to give.
So first, think about your audience. You want to present your topic in a way where they can:
- relate to your message/story
- trust the story that you present
- respect your expertise
If the presentation is too simple, you will lose their interest and bore them. If the presentation is too complex, they will tune out. Thus, start thinking about ways you can engage your audience with your story. What’s the hook?
To get you started, put yourself in the audience. Then, think about answers to the following questions:
- What do you look for in a presentation?
- What do presenters do to make their presentation interesting?
- Why do you go to presentations?
- What do presenters do to keep you engaged?