8 questions to ask yourself before a presentation
Sometimes we dread preparing a presentation
and push it away for as long as possible. So if that is what you are
doing right now, then great! You can use
these questions to actively think about your presentation
and make the first step in the preparation
work, which is commonly known the hardest one.
I hope these tips were useful. If you would like to get more tips
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- How many people will be
listening to me?
There is a big difference between presenting
in front of 5 people or 500. With 5 people you are much more
flexible. With 500 you need to have a good structure
in place, so you manage
well. You can read my blog
post on how to structure
your presentation and boost your
- Who are they? Are they all
the same? Is is a homogeneous or a heterogeneous group?
The way you present
your topic depends a
lot on who is sitting in front of you. You will present the information
very differently when everybody has the same expertise. A
rule of thumb to go by is to always prepare
as simple as possible.
Even highly technical content
is explained better with simple words than highly
complicated ones. You can also use metaphors, images and
acronyms to simplify information.
The more out of the box (see?) the better!
- Do they know more or less
about the topic? Does it matter?
Sometimes we are afraid,
that people in the audience
know more about our topic
than we do. We are worried that they will expose
our ignorance and make us feel stupid.
So ask yourself beforehand whether your audience
is likely to know more or less about the topic and whether that
really matters. Does it matter
if someone knows more? If they do (and let you know
during your presentation),
you can always invite them to come up to the podium
and explain. Usually they won't, and if they do, then maybe it
makes you come off as confident
about your weaknesses (because nobody
knows everything!) which is always a strong
thing to be.
- What are they expecting
from my presentation? Is there a way for me
to find this out? (send e-mail beforehand, let them fill in
form, ask someone?)
It's great to know people's expectations
beforehand. If you know what they are
expecting to get out of your presentation, you will feel much more confident
in providing this
information. So see whether there is a way
for you to find out, be
- What will happen if I don't
fulfill these expectations?
This is a good question to ask yourself if you are very stressed about
people's opinions of you. What
will actually happen? Will you be fired? Will you die?
Will you have to move out of your house? Usually our fear of not
meeting people's expectations
is much bigger than the actual
consequence of it. So think about what is realistically
most likely to happen.
- On a scale of 1-10 how comfortable/uncomfortable
does speaking at this event make me feel:
What could I do to increase my comfort on
this scale by 0,5? This is one of my favorite mind
games, because it works every time. It doesn't only work in public speaking
situations, it can be used in
any situation where you feel uncomfortable
and wished you felt better. Usually we
are experts in knowing what would make us
feel better about ourselves, so go ahead and write down
what that would be in your case.
- What can I gain from speaking
in front of my audience? We generally
need a motivation
for doing what we do. We are not likely to do things without
purpose. So what could that purpose
for speaking in front of your audience
be? Can you gain a great reputation, is it an important career move for
you? Will you have done your job
well and therefore be considered as a competent
part of your team? Think about what
you can gain from doing this public
- What will be my reward once I
have done it? This is my favorite question – and one we
always tend to forget. What will be my reward? A shopping spree?
A city trip? A movie? A watch? If you are afraid
of public speaking
and you do it anyway, you are facing a fear
and that is worth celebrating!
It is nice to have some time or an item that reminds you of this
great achievement. Don't miss out on that. Go
ahead and celebrate!