Many people plan a presentation by brainstorming. I don’t recommend it. Brainstorming is an attempt to capture everything you know about a particular topic. That’s likely to overwhelm your audience.
Here’s an example of a brainstorm for a presentation on financial planning to small-business owners.
Brainstorming to prepare a presentation leads to many problems:
1. You’re likely to end up having too much information in your presentation.
In the brainstorm above, there are heaps of great points and nuggets of information that small-business owners might find useful. It’s going to be difficult to decide which to include and which to discard. If the presenter attempts to cover all these points, he’ll overload his audience with information. The more you include, the less your audience will remember.
2. You’re setting yourself up for a lot of editing work.
So, you realize that you need to cut down on all the points you’ve generated through brainstorming. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort to do that editing. You’ll have spent time brainstorming points, only to spend still more time editing them out. Wasted time.
3. You risk not finding a focus for your presentation.
All the points and ideas that you generate during brainstorming will clutter your thinking. In the brainstorm above, there are so many areas of interest that it’s going to be difficult to decide what should be the focus of the presentation. A tight focus is essential to an effective presentation.
4. You could end up with unrelated points in your presentation.
In an effective presentation, each point contributes to the focus of the presentation and logically follows what has come before. That’s difficult to achieve if you’ve generated a whole heap of unrelated points through your brainstorming.
An effective way to prepare a presentation
A key to planning an effective presentation is to drastically limit the amount of information you include. So, instead of brainstorming as your first step in planning your presentation, identify one element you want your audience to remember.
The brutal truth is this:
Your audience is likely to remember only one thing from your presentation.
Don’t leave what they remember up to chance; decide what the one thing will be.
In the financial planning presentation, the presenter wanted people to remember that small-business owners need to save for their retirement rather than relying on their business to fund it.
Craft this into a key message.
The one thing should be crafted into a clear and memorable key message. It should be easy for you to say and just as easy for your audience to grasp and remember. Here’s the key message for the financial planning presentation:
Your business is not your superannuation policy.
So, don’t brainstorm. Work out your key message—and then develop the rest of your presentation to support it. Preparing in this way will save you time and effort, and you’ll deliver a message your audience will remember.