Next week I have to give a couple of presentations in front of audiences of people I don’t know. I have 45 minutes allotted for each, and I’m trying to create 30-35 minute presentations, both to give myself some extra space if I start running behind and to allow time for discussion at the end. The thing is, I almost never give presentations, so I’m a bit at a loss in terms of preparation.
I envision myself as the type of person who can give an extemporaneous speech that’s interesting and doesn’t seem overly rehearsed, so I started with the idea that I would just create the slides and write a fairly detailed outline and then speak from those. The first big piece of advice I got was to write the whole thing out, regardless. My fear there was that I’d wind up reading the speech, which is boring, but I realized that given my lack of experience, not writing the whole thing out would prime me for disaster. I’d like to sound casual and engaging, but I’ve come to realize that the only way to do that is to prepare that much more. There was a great quote in one of the articles about John Kenneth Galbraith this weekend where he said that he had to rewrite his stuff four or five times in order to achieve the off the cuff style that people appreciated about his writing.
In that spirit, I’m writing out my presentations word for word and hope I have time to practice them until they don’t sound like I did.
Brilliant presentation tips would be appreciated.
Update: Here’s the Galbraith quote:
The third thing is never to assume that your first draft is right. The first draft, when you’re writing, involves the terrible problem of thought combined with the terrible problem of composition. And it is only in the second and third and fourth drafts that you really escape that original pain and have the opportunity to get it right. Again, I’m repeating myself; I’ve said many times that I do not put that note of spontaneity that my critics like into anything but the fifth draft. It may have a slightly artificial sound as a consequence of that.
You can find it here.