What does it take to prepare and deliver a great presentation?

Start with Organizing

The easiest and simplest way to organize your presentation is: introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • Start with a good introduction.
    • Get their attention. Answer the questions? Why should they listen to you? What’s in it for them? How will your ideas help them? What’s your expertise?   
    • Provide a roadmap. “We will discuss three points.”
  • The body is your major points and supporting details.
    • Focus on the 1-to-3 big ideas you want to convey.  
    • Explain your ideas by using simple facts, statistics, examples, and stories. Support your ideas with case studies, research, testimonials, quotations, and surveys.  
    • Organize your ideas so it’s easy to follow. Try using either of these approaches:
      • -Problem—Solution “The problem we are facing is XYZ. My solution has three steps.
      • -Question—Answer “The question we must answer is…”   
  • Present a strong conclusion.
    • Identify the one or two things you want the audience to remember or do.  

Effective Visual Aids

Visual aids are meant to be just that—aids. They should support your presentation, not call attention to themselves. Here are three recommendations regarding slides:

  • Use pictures and a few words (never more than twelve). 
  • Have one, and only one, major idea per slide.
  • Use a font size of 32 or larger.

Delivering Your Message

Certainly, your ideas are very important. How you deliver it is equally important. The two things you need for effective delivery is passion and conviction. If you don’t fully believe in your ideas, why would you expect the audience to get excited?

Here are four tactics that will improve your delivery.    

  • Eye contact

Mentally divide the room into quarters or thirds. Make eye contact with one person until you complete your sentence. Then move on and connect with a person in another part of the room.   

  • Gestures

Stand perfectly still, then gesture. Increase the effect of your gestures by making them bigger and holding them for several seconds before releasing them.

  • Volume

Alternate your volume. No one likes a monotone voice. Increase your volume or use inflection to emphasize certain points.

  • Pause

Give the audience a chance to digest and assimilate what you have said. Pauses also help build suspense for what you are about to say.

No matter how great your delivery, people’s attention does wander. You can use signal phrases that motivate the audience to pay attention: “This next point is very important.” “If you don’t remember anything else, remember this…”


Finally, practice, practice, practice. Actors, singers, and athletes all spend many hours practicing before every live performance. Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor rehearsed her extraordinarily successful TED talk 200 times before presenting it. Now that’s preparation!    


The one thing you need to remember…

Great presentation requires ideas that are clear, relevant, and meaningful to the audience. And, delivered with passion and conviction.


Paul B. Thornton is an author and speaker. His latest e-books include:

  • Leadership-Perfecting Your Approach and Style-($1.99) Amazon Kindle. 
  • Leadership Case Studies-($4.99) Amazon Kindle.

Paul has produced 28 short YouTube videos on various management and leadership topics. In addition, he frequently posts his views and opinions about leadership on Linked-In.  

He can be contacted at [email protected]