In my last post, I wrote about why it’s worthwhile to spend time preparing a presentation. But it’s also possible to waste time preparing a presentation, by not going about it in the right way. So here are my 7 time-saving tips to help you prepare a presentation efficiently.

1. Always be preparing

Professional public speakers have always advised aspiring speakers to be collectors of stories. But now also collect images, videos etc which could be useful. That way, when you next have to plan a presentation, you’ll have some resources at your fingertips, rather than having to search from scratch.

2. Start immediately

Start planning your presentation as soon as you know you have to give it. That way, you’ll think about your presentation during the cracks in your day. You’ll refine what you want to say and come up with interesting examples. By starting immediately you’ll reduce the total amount of  time you spend planning your presentation.

3. Break the presentation planning process into small steps

Planning a presentation can be a daunting process – and therefore we procrastinate. Break the process up into small steps. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Draft the Key Message
  2. Choose a three-part structure for the body of your presentation
  3. Collect evidence to support the points in your structure
  4. Plan the opening of your presentation
  5. Design PowerPoint/Keynote slides if required.

For more detail on these steps see my Presentation Planning Guide.

4. Don’t brainstorm

For most presentations it’s not useful to brainstorm material. (Note: I make a distinction between brainstorming and mindmapping. brainstorming is for generating new ideas. Mindmapping maps what you already know).

The art of planning a presentation is choosing just the information your audience needs to know – and no more. You need to cull information, not gather it. If you brainstorm you’re going in the opposite direction.

5. Rehearse before you think you’re ready

Many people waste time preparing far more information than they need. Once you have the basic flow of your presentation sorted, try it out. You’ll find out how much time it takes to deliver. And that way you won’t spend time preparing information that you’ll never have an opportunity to deliver.

If you have willing friend of colleague try it out in front of them and ask them to tell you how “ready ” it is. You may find you don’t have too much more work to do.

6. Pinpoint the research you need to do

Some people waste time by doing general research on their presentation topic. This is a waste of time.

Instead plan the flow of your presentation and then decide where you need to back-up your points with evidence eg: a statistic or a quote from a credible expert. Then go and find that evidence.

7. Let go of perfection

There is no such thing as a perfect presentation. Audiences don’t want a perfect presentation – they want connection, engagement and information that helps them. So let go of trying to attain perfection.

If you have difficulty judging when your presentation is good enough, rehearse it in front of a friend and let them tell you whether it’s good enough.

Note: After I wrote this post, I did a search on my blog for a link  and found that I had written a very similar post to this last year that I had forgotten about. D’oh! But the information is valuable and timeless, so I’ve decided to post this one too. Enjoy!

What tips do you have for saving time when you’re preparing a presentation?

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