Presentation preparation

Why? What? Who?

When preparing a presentation there is clearly (at least in most cases) a vast amount of time spent on researching the subject and on the method of presenting it, but there are probably three major points to consider before writing your speech.

Why? What? Who?

• Why are you presenting?

• What is the presentation about?

• Who are you presenting to?

“Why?” and “What?” are probably the two aspects that come highest on the list when in the preparation stage. The presenter will want to achieve the task set out so will initially focus on “Why?”, and they will spend the majority of time on “What?”, but if you don’t sit down and think about “Who?” then the whole presentation might be wasted. I wonder how many people actually write consciously knowing this.

If your presentation is for school then you probably have been asked to pick a topic of your choice and give a presentation for five or ten minutes to your classmates. There is no need to use big words or complicated alliteration, just pick your subject and make sure that your point is understood. Using fancy language might impress the teachers but the whole point of the exercise is to get your argument across in an effective and clear way, so use short words and short sentences. Don’t leave any room for misunderstanding.

At a higher level, such as university, the presentation topic is likely to be focused on a more specific subject. You may still be able to choose it yourself but if you are doing an English course, for example, you probably won’t be presenting something on the French Revolution. It is a generally accepted fact that university students have a higher level of communication skills (although recent experience has indicated that this isn’t always true). The speaker can afford to and will probably be expected to use some fancy vocabulary on this occasion, but even then short and uncomplicated sentences are the most effective way.

If you are trying to land that dream job then you will be faced with a very difficult task. You won’t know “Who” so you will need to accept that your audience is expecting to be “wowed”. Try to steer clear of technical jargon where possible, especially if you are not 100% clear on what you are saying. This is not the time for Martin Luther King-style language. Keep it basic and to the point, use clear ideas and not fantastical fantasies.

In all cases, unless you are completely confident with your topic, keep to the facts. Do not try to impress with completely new ideas unless you are sure that you can back them up with foolproof evidence. Just remember at all times you need to be clear, concise and confident.

Sharren L. Bessant


Published On: 10th Mar 2012

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  1. Thank you for the helpful advice. The butterflies in my stomach are less frantic.

    Shannon 8 Jul at 8:48 am
  2. Thanks for the advice… dream job interview here I come!!! Well.. slightly less manic anyway!!

    Pussycat 11 Jul at 10:59 am
  3. thanks for articl im Aiab in iran and english languech is secsnd languech so i road this articl im happyed.

    Anonymous 11 Sep at 3:44 pm
  4. thanks for the info n the helpfull thoughts

    Marven Fineman 14 Oct at 9:23 pm
  5. Thank you very much for the information.Theses are really helpful.

    Anju 14 Jan at 10:54 am
  6. Thank you so much, this is very helpful.


    Somya 10 Jun at 2:32 pm