Have you been asked to give a presentation?

Recently I was asked to give a presentation on the topic of ‘Thriving in Digital Tech’. Although I am well used to getting up in front of groups (to teach) I found myself a little out of my comfort zone!

Here I will share my process:

  1. After seeing the invitation my first instinct was to decline or foist it onto a colleague! But, after some thought (and discussion with said colleague) I put my big girl pants on and said yes.

There then followed about 2 weeks of denial and procrastination! Despite having a plan in place to divide the tasks up over the coming weeks. This was devised with the help of my business coach, Lyndsey at Heads-up Coaching.

Schedule to prepare presenation

Schedule to prepare presentation

  1. With my accountability session with Lyndsey looming, I decided I had to bite the bullet and get started. I had been given a brief by the organisers, so I set about planning my presentation. I sent this to Cath (Co-founder of digi) to get some feedback and ideas on some of the slides.
Presentation plan

Presentation plan

  1. The next stage was to create a template in PowerPoint in line with our branding. I did have one already but decided it needed a refresh.
Template for PowerPoint presentation

Template for PowerPoint presentation

  1. Adding the content was quite a speedy process as I had the plan, brief and ideas from Cath (as well as my own ideas). For any slides, I wasn’t sure about I skipped over adding a heading. It soon began to take shape.
Presentation slides

Presentation slides

  1. Over the next few days, I added content and image as they came to me until I was happy with them. I discussed it with Lyndsey, who advised me to cut down the text on the slides. The extra text I added to the notes section and changed a few headings. I also sent it to Cath, and we discussed it over a Zoom call.
Cath and Clare on Zoom

Cath and Clare on Zoom

  1. I then practised it using the timer feature in PowerPoint to make sure it was roughly the right length asked for in the brief. I wrote out my script long hand and then read it back into Word using the dictation option (tip! Game changer!). This was to practice and to have a digital copy of my talk.
Dictate mode in Word

Using the dictate tool in Word

  1. The next stage was to practice with the coach in PowerPoint (without reading off the script). This is a great tool for giving you feedback on your use of filler words (um, I mean, like), pace and tone.
Speaker coach report in PowerPoint

Speaker coach report in PowerPoint

  1. Finally, I wrote bullet point headings onto cards as reminders to have to hand when I gave the presentation.
Cue cards for presentation

Cue cards for presentation

  1. I also gave a lot of thought about what I would wear on the day – consulting with a friend on the shortlist of outfits. You want to feel confident and comfortable and also look good and professional. Luckily, I decided against the black spotty dress as it turned out the other speaker was wearing that!
Clare in red trousers

The chosen outfit!

  1. On the day I took my typed-out talk and bullet point cards with me, all the while telling myself: ‘You’re not going to read off that’. I even took it up to the lectern with me as a little comfort blanket!

On the day

Not going to lie, I was nervous on the day, but I was kept busy beforehand chatting to the organisers and the other speaker and once I got going, I was fine. The feedback from the audience was positive with many heads nodding at certain points and some great questions at the end.

Presentation top tips

  • Follow the brief
  • Create a plan
  • Create a PowerPoint template
  • Give yourself plenty of time
  • Start with the easy slides
  • Find your images
  • Get feedback
  • Use the tools within PowerPoint to practise
  • Cut down the text
  • Practise again
  • Video yourself
  • Write the script
  • Ditch the script
  • Use cards with bullet points or the notes section in PowerPoint

Have you had to give a presentation? What are your top tips?

Share in the comments below.

I recently trained someone about managing a presentation on Zoom, if you need help please get in touch.


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