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Planning a Presentation Requires Structure

Planning a presentation is one of the most important components of creating a presentation. Utilizing a good structure can make the process go smoothly and without stress.

Where to Begin

We all strive to be more productive without adding minutes, hours, or days to our already burdened work lives. Not having a structure during the presentation planning stage will eat away at your productivity and build anxiety.

In a previous post, I discussed three ways to prepare for a presentation. One of the preparation strategies I suggested was creating a backwards timeline. While this preparation is just one part of the overall planning process, it can help set you up for an overall successful planning process

About the Structure

On your backwards timeline, add the following columns after the task column: Length of time; Who; Dependent on another task? (Yes/No); and If Yes, what task(s)?

  • Length of time: Add how long you expect the task will take you, even if it is only 5 minutes. This serves two purposes. One, it can let you know if your deadline dates are accurate. Two, it will help you block time out on your calendar.
  • Who: While you may be doing most of the work, some tasks may need to be done by other people. By having the person identified, it helps you keep track of the many moving pieces. If you are working as a team, this column is imperative.
  • Dependent on another task?: This column can really help with the checks and balances part of the presentation planning process. This highlights potential delays.
  • What task(s)?: Works similarly to the previous column and clarifies what the task is.

Another benefit to this process is it can help clarify what tasks are vital and which could be skipped if needed. It can also help you select tasks that someone else can do. This is a good time to try to break free from a perfectionist mind set, too.

Having a plan in place can really help overcome procrastination. If you are at all anxious about giving a presentation this can help reduce it. Research shows that breaking down a large project into small achievable tasks make it easier to accomplish.

Example Backwards Timeline and Presentation Planner

Deadline

Task/ Activity

Length of Time

Who

Dependent on Another Task?

What Task(s)?

February 5

Give Presentation

1 hour

Me

N/A

February 4

Tech Check

30 minutes

Me / coordinator

Yes

Confirmation Email from Coordinator

February 1

Practice Presentation

3 days

Me

Yes

Graphic designer finishing slide deck

When you first start doing this planning process, you might find you don’t always stick with it. That is okay. If this is really different from the way you normally work, it takes time to establish new habits. For people who have little structure in their life, it is natural for them to struggle more than others with this type of process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, one of the most effective ways to plan a presentation is to have structure. In particular, a system where you know what tasks need to be completed, the deadlines for those tasks, how long it will take to do each task, and who is completing the task. This not only helps you identify potential delays but can help with stress levels.

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About the author 

Jennifer

Jennifer has 15+ years of public speaking experience - ranging from groups of 5 to 5000. She draws from her experience as an instructor, academic, and librarian to help others with their presentation skills. When not presenting she loves creating and designing online courses, video, images, slide decks, handouts, conference posters, and infographics.

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