Putting together a presentation might not seem like such a difficult task. Depending on the topic and industry, there will be different degrees of complexity but, in most cases, it’s a pretty straightforward process. First, you establish the audience you’re going to be presenting to, make sure you have enough information about them so that you know what to include and what not to. Then, you move on to the topic of the presentation and start mapping out a structure for it that will serve as a skeleton. In today’s article, we’ll be looking at building the actual content for this structure and, more importantly, presentation research.
Regardless of their age or experience, your audience will be expecting some sort of valuable information. It could be facts, good case practices, practical exercises or fun anecdotes. The better you understand your audience, the easier it will be to find the right topic and content for your talk. The research element is the most time-consuming aspect of creating a presentation. It’s also one of the most important ones. It will give your presentation the anchor it needs to be credible and to provide value for your listeners.
Let’s look at the most important steps in presentation research and how to make them work for you:
1. Research your audience
If, for example, you’re speaking to a group of young college students or Gen Z-ers, you’ll need to gather the right information and organize it in such a way that it provides the right information in the right format. If you’re going to tell them about the latest trends in Augmented Reality, you can be sure that they already know what AR is and how it’s used. You’ll probably want to come up with new information such as AR applications that have recently launched and how they were designed. You might also want to include a practical AR exercise using a pair of smart glasses.
Before you start working on your presentation, find out as much as you can about your audience. If you have access to their emails, send them a brief form where you ask questions regarding their experience, expectations or delivery preferences.
You can also go online and see what people in the same target group post and what type of content they engage with. Do they prefer videos? Are they outdoorsy?
This will help you tailor your topic, structure and content on their needs and wants so that you deliver a successful presentation.
2. Research your topic
Did you know that Google performs 2 million searches each minute and 72 hours worth of video is uploaded to YouTube within the space of 60 seconds? You can be one of the top experts in your field of work but I bet you’ll still encounter things you didn’t know or haven’t heard about if you do your research properly.
Start with the insights on what your audience expect from the presentation. Then look to the latest trends and industry publications to find out if there are new discoveries or opinions that you can include in your talk. Check popular blogs and influencers' websites, and get the pulse of social media using hashtag searches. As you’re doing your research, you can narrow or expand the topic you’re presenting about, depending on what you find.
You can also reach out to fellow colleagues or friends, either personally or at different industry events, to pitch them some of the ideas you want to explore and see what they think. You never know , they might have a great input that can transform your presentation from good to great. But don’t forget to credit them.
3. Research your facts
People love numbers. They give us this sense of overview and credibility. Quotes, stats, numbers, they feel like they solidify an idea or enhance it. If the topic allows it and you want to prove a point, don’t hesitate to sprinkle some numbers and stats here and there.
Always double check your facts. You don’t need to have hundreds of numbers but make sure that the ones you do include are the right ones.
Here are some websites where you can use to find and check stats:
Also read: 23 Free Resources For Presentation Design
4. Credit your sources
Every article, statistic or idea you include, that is not your own, belongs to someone who deserves recognition for it. This applies to imagery and visual elements as well. Make sure to check if you can use the information you’ve found and include a link and/mention to its source or author.
If you don’t want to clutter your slides, you can have a slide at the end of the presentation where you reference your sources and link to them. You’ll get good Internet karma, trust me.
5. Research delivery details
This one is more of a “Don’t forget to ask about...” kind of key point. Before designing your entire presentation, you want to make sure you know how much time you will have to present it and also in which format. Perhaps your presentation is part of a massive conference and the organizers expect you to deliver it in 20 minutes, accompanied by a 30 minutes practical exercise.
If you haven’t been specifically instructed about the time, topic, structure and content of the presentation, make sure to ask these questions before creating it. The answer can prove to be a real saver. Or they can simply say “Get creative” in which case, you’re free to dazzle your audience however you choose.
What other tips would you add to this list? Leave me a comment, I’d love to know.