16 questions to ask before every presentation

Basic diagnostic questions to help determine how to develop and deliver your next presentation.


When we work with new presentation-training clients, they’re often surprised that we sit and talk for a while before we get to the actual “training.”

That conversation is critical. We use that valuable time together to answer some basic diagnostic questions that will help determine how they develop and deliver their presentations.

This post could easily have included 137 questions, but I’ve limited it to 16. This article doesn’t attempt to be comprehensive, so I hope you’ll add other questions to the comments section.

Here are 16 questions to ask before every presentation:

Questions about logistics

1. How much time have you been allotted for your presentation?

2. Of that, how much time will you reserve for questions?

3. Will someone introduce you? (If so, have you provided them with a bio or suggested introduction?)

4. From where will you present?

5. How will you present? (For example, from a prepared script, using bullets, from memory.)

Questions about attendance

6. How many people will be in attendance?

7. Who, specifically, are they?

8. What are their concerns, challenges and/or goals?

9. How much does the audience already know about your topic?

10. How much do they need to know for you to achieve your goal?

11. How would you describe the audience’s current feelings about your topic?

12. From the perspective of the audience, why should they care about your speech?

Questions about your goal

13. What is your goal for this speech?

14. What is the single most important thing you want the audience to remember?

15. What are the one, two, or three points you’d like to make to help the audience remember that single thing?

16. If you’re successful, what will the audience think/feel/do after your speech?

For five more questions to ask before every presentation, visit the author’s blog, Mr. Media Training. Brad Phillips is the president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training.

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