8.1. Planning the Presentation
It doesn't matter if you're planning on talking one on oneteaching your daughter how to operate the lawnmoweror speaking to thousands of Macworld attendees: if you care about the message you're about to deliver, it's worth spending time organizing your thoughts before you begin composing your presentation (Figure 8-1).
Tip: While you're planning your presentation, don't forget to make a contingency plan, too. Identify parts of your presentation you could simplify, gloss over, or cut out completely, in case your guest speaker rambles on for ten minutes instead of three; audience questions take much longer than anticipated; or you have to send someone to find the janitor when you turn on your projector and trip a circuit breaker.
8.1.1. The Goals of Your Presentation
Begin by really thinking through what you want your presentation to accomplish. There's nothing worse than being on the receiving end of an aimless talk. In other words, what do you want your audience to walk away with? Here are some examples:
8.1.2. Know Your Audience
To increase the likelihood of achieving your goal, you need to learn as much as you can about the kind of people who'll be in the audience. Put yourself in their shoes and figure out how you can make your presentation interesting and relevant to them. Sometimes you'll know exactly who you're talking to: the members of your project team, the Board of Directors, or your fellow Rotary members . In these cases, you've probably already got a pretty good idea of who these people are, what interests them, what their group culture is like, and what the norms are for typical presentations.
At other times, the audience may be much more of an unknown quantity: the attendees at a conference you've never been to before, reporters at a press conference, a brand new client, or the circuit court judge. In this case, make an effort to learn about your audience to give yourself a better chance of really connecting with them.
8.1.3. Tailor the Presentation to the Audience
With your presentation goal and target audience clearly in mind, you can tailor what you're going to say to this particular group.
Tip: Interview potential audience members or other people who've presented to this group previously and ask for advice on how to make your presentation succeed.
8.1.4. Outline the Presentation
Start by creating an outline of your presentation on paper or in Pages. Start rough with the high points of what you want to say and refine your outline as you go. If your presentation is part of a larger event, then outline your part from the time you take the podium to the time you leave the stage. A Keynote presentation may be all or only a small part of this outline.
If your presentation is the event, outline the whole thingfrom the time you arrive at the hall, set up your information table, check in with your helpers, and so on; right through to the end when you pack up your projector and turn out the lights.
8.1.5. Build Your Presentation
Work from your outline to create your Keynote presentation. The following chapters cover the mechanics of working with Keynote. But before you start creating slides, refine your outline so you'll know how and where to make use of those slides.
It's certainly not the only way to do it, but an old favorite structure for speeches is the overview, the presentation, and the review. In other words, tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them. That may sound excessively simple, but it's a wonderfully easy way to keep your audience oriented.
You might find it useful to start with a joke, a quip, or humorous anecdoteespecially a self-deprecating onethat somehow relates to your topic. If skillfully delivered, this kind of icebreaker helps lower the audience's defenses and can endear you to them. But if you can't tell jokes, or if you're sure you're going to be so nervous you could never pull it off, don't attempt it. You certainly don't want to start off with a poorly told joke that falls flat.
Remember as you design your slidesand later as you make your presentationyour job is to communicate your information clearly, simply, and interestingly. Your mission is to engage the audience and keep their attention for the duration. Keep these points in mind when you're sketching out what you want to say:
Spend some quality time rehearsing your presentation. Get out a stopwatch and track how long it takes you to give your speech, and then factor in the time you need to spend on introductory comments and the question-and-answer period. Make any adjustments you need to remain comfortably within the allotted time.
Practice giving your presentation to a coworker, an indulgent spouse, or an attentive dog, and listen carefully to any feedbackfrom the humans anyway. Watch yourself in the mirror or shoot a video of yourself as you practice. Pay special attention to your gestures, expressions, and body language. Be yourself, but remember you are essentially "on stage"even if your audience is composed of only two people. And to reach an audience, you need to project not only your voice, but your movements and gestures as well.
Have someone else proofread your slides. If you have to proofread them yourself, print out the slides so you can see the words on paper instead of on screen. Misspelled words or incorrect punctuation that you read over a dozen times on screen will jump out at you on a printed page. Double- and triple-check the spelling of people's names or product names that appear in your slides.
You've planned, produced, practiced, and polished your presentationdon't take any chances with it now. Back up your Keynote file and any of your supporting materials: scripts, handouts, and so on. Burn them to a CD or copy them to a portable flash drive, an external hard drive, or another computer on your network. You may also want to email your presentation to a Web-accessible email account; you can always download it in a pinch . There's nothing special about making these kinds of backupsit should be standard operating procedure for all your important files.
But you also need another kind of backup for your presentation. If you're taking your presentation on your laptop to plug it into a video projector, you should think about what you'll do if the laptop conks out when you get thereand then have a backup plan.
Prepare copies of your presentation on CD in Keynote and PowerPoint format so you can borrow a computer and still present your slides. (See Section 11.3 for information on exporting to the PowerPoint format.)
Also think about bringing your visuals in an alternate formatfor example, overhead transparencies or 35mm slides. (See Section 11.3.5 for the story on creating alternate visuals from Keynote.)
Always bring a printout of your slides and speaker notes. You may not be able to show the audience your charts and graphs but you'll still be able to make it through your speech, if necessary, using a whiteboard or flip chart to create quick illustrations.