A 5-point presentation checklist

Pose the problem, offer the solution, call the audience to action—and make sure you back up your presentation in the cloud, and your attire in the car. Stuff happens.

Anyone who has delivered a presentation knows preparation is the key to success. Practice is invaluable, but preparation requires more than rehearsing your delivery in the mirror.

Here is a short checklist to make sure you are prepared for any presentation:

1. Sell pain relief.

Most people are living with some type of pain: stress, exhaustion, or worry. When preparing the content of your presentation, make sure your message emphasizes how your idea or product makes life easier, safer, or more comfortable. Pain relief will captivate an audience more than fancy bells and whistles that do not solve an existing problem.

2. Give a call to action.

End your presentation with a clear call to action. Hopefully, your presentation clearly communicates how your idea or product provides pain relief, so the final step in presentation success is to inform your audience on ways to take advantage of your solution. If the audience knows that your product exists, but they do not know how to buy it, you might have some new fans, but your sales will not prove it.

3. Don’t forget design.

Let’s face it. We all prefer things that are well designed. That includes cars, clothes, phones, and, yes, presentations. If you cannot hire a designer to take your presentation to rock-star status, follow a few simple rules to keep your presentation from drowning in poor design. Aim for large photography and minimal text. Typography is crucial, so pick an easy-to-read font.

4. Dress for your brand.

A new rule of thumb for presentation attire has emerged: Your clothes should represent your brand. The general rule of overdressing for speaking engagements is no longer acceptable. For example, if you are representing a brand that identifies with a young, hip demographic, do not wear a suit. It is more important to connect to your target audience than to have the crispest suit in the room. Regardless of your clothing choice, leave a backup outfit in the car in case you need a last-minute wardrobe change.

5. Be your own geek.

Chances are, you will be the master of your own presentation production, so be prepared for every possible technical nightmare. In 2013, there is no excuse for being technologically inept. Save your presentation in multiple formats and in various places, including the cloud. Bring extra cords, adapters, and devices. Having your presentation saved in your email inbox on your iPad could save the day if your colleague spills coffee on your laptop. Things happen. Be prepared.

Ethos3 is a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki.

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