Do Not Start with Powerpoint – 7 Pieces of Preparation

Presentation Preparation

‘Do not start with Powerpoint – 7 Pieces of Essential Presentation Preparation’ is about sharing with you how the very best suppliers achieve greater influence in their presentations. For most, the need to ‘write a presentation’ or ‘create a deck for me’ begins with opening a new Powerpoint file. Stop. Please do not. The best metaphor we have found for why is…

‘Powerpoint should be used as a drunk should use a lamppost, for illumination to show the way home, not for support to lean against’.

In essence, many presenters use PowerPoint as cue cards to help remind them what to say. And because we can all read 7 times faster than we can talk – By the time the presenter has spoken the 1st sentence, the audience has read the 7th sentence and simply waiting for the presenter to catch-up. Add to this that when PowerPoint begins the audience adjust their necks and lock into place for an hour of presentation, the engagement goes south and then at the end the presenter says, ‘Any questions?’. And the poor audience desperately tries to remember what has been said and conjure up a great question to ask.

Ok, What Do We Do Then?

The answer depends on what you wish to achieve because PowerPoint is an effective tool when used for the right presentation. We suggest starting with, ‘What do you want to achieve?’. Here are ‘7 Pieces of Essential Preparation’ that we ask our clients to complete for Must Win Meetings before we even consider opening PowerPoint together:

  1. Background – Who is the audience? What do they think of you? What are they thinking? Why is this meeting happening? What have they seen/know about us already?  What are their expectations? OPV – A great tool from Edward De Bono. One of our favourites.
  2. Duration – How long do we have? What time do we need for the agreement? How much time do we want to spend presenting? How much time do we want to spend discussing?
  3. EIM – What is our ‘End in Mind? A great tool from Stephen Covey, habit 2 asking ‘What do you want to achieve at the end of this meeting?’.
  4. Objectives – What are your objectives for this meeting? We suggest having 3 simple, specific, and clear objectives that everyone who is attending from your side knows. Remember SMART. What are your objectives for after the meeting?
  5. Messages – What are the key messages we wish to convey? We suggest having 3 simple, specific, and clear messages that everyone who is attending from your side knows.
  6. Tone – Describe the tone you wish to convey in 3 words.
  7. Format What format shall we use? Once you have completed the first 6 pieces, the last piece is about the format and we recommend a combination of formats, e.g. A3 posters, video, discussion worksheets, PowerPoint, etc. to suit the objectives because this will add ‘texture’ to your presentation.

7 Pieces of Essential Preparation

By completing the ‘7 pieces of essential preparation’ you may decide that PowerPoint is the way forward and it is a very good tool when used appropriately.  When you have written your PowerPoint presentation, having completed the 7 pieces of essential preparation, you can now email the presentation and the completed pieces to a colleague and ask them to review the presentation against your objectives.
Without providing your colleague with the preparation, it can be a bit like the story of a child who asked his Dad to look at his homework. The Dad sees a wonderful drawing of a boat and praises the boy for spending so much time on his homework and doing it so well. Later, Mum sees the homework and notices the brief for the homework tucked into the exercise book. ‘Why have you drawn a boat? The teacher has asked for a bat’. The child had read what he wanted to draw and not what was written.

Presentation Preparation – Writing Your ‘Play’

Once you have completed the ‘7 pieces of essential preparation’ above we work with our clients to complete our tried and tested tool, the ‘Session Plan’. Similar to a screenplay, providing a template to populate the 7 pieces above, the time per session, the texture used, the key messages, etc. and what becomes the ‘playbook’ for the meeting. A very powerful tool used to ensure that the presentation goes according to plan. If you would like to see the ‘Session Plan’ tool from our Must Win Meetings product, please contact us, or if you have a meeting coming up with a retailer that you must win.

For further information, you can find our Ultimate Guide to Presentation Skills here.

SlideShare of the Above

Do not start with Powerpoint – 7 Pieces of Essential Preparation
from Darren A. Smith (DAS)


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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Perfect and detailed description of importance of preparation when presenting. I think point 3 is absolutely essential as there is no point doing anything let alone presenting, if you don’t have the end goal in mind.

  • Avatar for Darren A. Smith
    Charlotte Marchant
    February 19, 2016 6:21 pm

    Liked the inclusion of ‘Writing your play’, I tend to do this so you know exactly how the presentation will go. Very helpful post, will most definitely refer to this for future presentations.

  • Avatar for Darren A. Smith
    Matthew Streeter
    February 27, 2016 8:50 pm

    Loved the quote at the beginning of this, as I agree that powerpoint should be a tool and not relied on completely.

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