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November 6, 2020

Optimal Presentation Planning Uses 1 Definitive Method

Presentation planning is one of the most important components of creating a speech, slide deck, or presentation. Utilizing a good structure can make the process go smoothly and without stress.

Where to Begin

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

In an article about time management, Entrepreneur Magazine, identified three actions that also work with project management and presentation planning. These are set deadlines, organize, and break projects down. These are all key elements to a good planning structure.

presentation plan timeline example

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


Task/ Activity

Length of Time


Dependent on Another Task?

What Task(s)?

February 5

Give Presentation

1 hour



February 4

Tech Check

30 minutes

Me / coordinator


Confirmation Email from Coordinator

February 1

Practice Presentation

3 days



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.


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.

In the comments section, share techniques or strategies you use for presentation planning that work well or ones that didn’t work as well.

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Jennifer Sharkey is known as the Virtual Presentation Specialist. Being passionate about seeing people shine and be heard, she leans into her 20+ years of public speaking experience and uses what she has learned from presenting, both in-person and virtually, to small groups all the way up to 5000 people. Jennifer draws from her experience as an associate professor, academic librarian, and coach to help holistic coaches master virtual presentations to grow their business. Her unique immersive program provides practical strategies and methods to build confidence, engage audiences, and generate authenticity and authority.

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