Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Four Ways to Make Your Presentation Great: A Casual, Personable Presentation Still Starts with Research and Preparation

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Four Ways to Make Your Presentation Great: A Casual, Personable Presentation Still Starts with Research and Preparation

Article excerpt

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to make seven presentations to six different professional groups in six cities over seven days. As I prepared for that whirlwind week, I worried about how to make each presentation as effective as possible. I kept thinking about the "great" presentations I have attended at conferences through the years, and how they always seemed to be more like casual conversations with the presenter rather than one-sided lectures. Ever since I started presenting education sessions at conferences eight years ago, I have sought to emulate that environment. In conducting post-session evaluations, I have concluded that the key to achieving that goal is in the preparation just as much as it is in the energy brought to the actual presentation.

The process I use to prepare for an education session is outlined below. In creating this process, I have tried to balance the need for an enjoyable presentation with meeting the technical requirements to have the session be approved for continuing education units (CEUs)--to identify the need and learning out comes. Articulating the "need" for the session (how the session adds to the body of knowledge in the field) and then generating three measurable learning outcomes for CEU approval is one of the most difficult parts of preparing a new presentation. As I work through this part of the process, I continually ask myself "How can I measure this during the session?" I keep revising it until I have a concise answer that will demonstrate the effectiveness of the presentation for the audience. For example, actions like "defining, repeating, recording and discussing" are recommended because they are easily and clearly measurable. Words like "know, grasp, understand, improve and appreciate" are not as easily measurable and are not recommended when seeking CEU approval.

1 Conduct focused research

Filling the standard 75-minute presentation slot can seem scary at first, but the first five minutes will be taken up by the introduction and another 10 or so for questions at the end ... only leaving about an hour to fill with content. Because most of us are conducting secondary research (compiling research already done by others), looking for information directly related to the learning outcomes helps make the best use of time and energy.

2 Prepare material carefully and logically

A well-organized presentation will be easier for the audience to follow and help them remember the information (and it's easier for you to present!). Here are some things to consider when putting all the pieces together:

* Use current and reliable data. …

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