How I write presentations

On stage at Antler Demo Day 2019 in Sydney

Audience

The very first thing I make sure I’m clear on, is the audience. What’s their background? What industries are they from? What expertise do they have? What do they want out of the session?

Message

Once you understand the audience, figure out what you are really trying to tell them. What is that key message you want them to take away? Have that key message be supported by ideally three, and no more than five, supporting points in your conclusion or summary.

Feelings

How do you want your audience to feel? Happy? Enlightened? Inspired? Motivated? Angry? Challenged? Working out how you want them to feel will help you set the tone.

Debate

I like to think about structuring a presentation like I would a debate. It’s not about being objectionable or combative. All you should be trying to do is build enough supporting points to convince your audience of your key message.

Depth

A presentation full of your opinions without any independent supporting evidence is going to make your task more difficult. Audiences want to be convinced that you are not making everything up.

Slides

Strictly speaking, you don’t need slides. But when used properly, they are useful.

Write

Good presenters literally write their presentation out. Don’t try to “wing it”. Ever. Unless you want to suck during your presentation.

Illuminate

When writing a presentation, you don’t have to try to be Steve Jobs. What you are ultimately trying to do is figure out what it is about the content you’re delivering that is different and unique to what the audience has heard before.

Story

Most importantly, your presentation is a story. Treat it with that level of respect. If you don’t craft a compelling, logical, cohesive narrative, what you really have is a bunch of random points that you strung together.

Prepare

If you’ve read this far, I hope the key message you’ll take away is that you need to prepare. There are no shortcuts no matter how seasoned a presenter you are. Far too many people think they can stand up there and simply talk “off the cuff”. Sure, you can do that. But you will probably not do very well. Put in the work. Your audience will thank you for it.

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Ian Yip

Ian Yip

Cyber Risk. Cybersecurity. Business. Tech. Entrepreneur. CEO at Avertro. Former CTO at McAfee Asia Pacific.