At some point, most of us will give a presentation to an audience. In her book New Perspectives: Portfolio Projects for Soft Skills, Beverly Amer offers a four-step approach to creating and delivering an effective presentation. Whether you’re in charge of providing first-timers with needed advice, or your own skills need some polishing, these simple steps will help alleviate anxiety and ensure a smooth performance.

Step 1: Plan. Several key questions will help you develop a strong presentation that’s tailor made for your audience and purposes. As you begin, ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of your presentation? What action or response do you want your audience to have?
  • Who is your audience? What are their needs and interests?
  • How much time do you have for the presentation?
  • What kind of visual aids do you require?

Step 2: Prepare. This obviously includes having a strong handle on your topic, but also includes creating a thoughtful organization that logically flows from point to point, knowing what you’ll say in reference to each point, and knowing which presentation programs and tools will be available for your use. You may also consider the use of videos, audio recordings, graphics, or other resources that will enhance your presentation.

Step 3: Practice. Omitting this crucial step leaves the door open to rambling, losing one’s place, overreliance on notes or presentation slides, and other problems that will prove unpleasant to both you and your audience. Instead, take the time to review what you plan to say, gauge the time it takes you to make each point, practice your nonverbal communication, and so on.

Step 4: Present. Take a deep breath and relax. Smile. Make eye contact. Be confident, knowing that the work you’ve done by following steps 1, 2, and 3 leave you positioned for success! (Amer, pp. 114-118)

Reference: Content adapted from Amer, Beverly. 2012. New Perspectives: Portfolio Projects for Soft Skills. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.


Share your suggestions for a stellar presentation in the comments!