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Don’t prepare content; prepare questions

Tags: Be interesting | Presentations | Impact | Save time

6th February

You know your next presentation? The one that’s fast-approaching?

Have you finished your prep yet?

If so, have you prepared like virtually everyone else does:

  1. Slides – most of your prep time will have gone on creating your content, which you copied onto slides; and
  2. Run-through – you might have also done a quick run-through the slides, to practise your delivery

Both are important. After all, if you don’t do these, you’ll have no/rubbish slides. And everyone – mostly you – will hate your delivery.

However, there’s a problem.

Both these are focused on what you’ll say.

This means, that during your presentation, you’ll say a lot.

And your audience might not say anything.

So, what could have been a two-way, engaging conversation might become a one-way monologue.

But both you and your audience prefer things two-way. So instead…

Prepare a third thing:

  1. the questions you’ll ask

In other words, for each slide, work out at least 1-2 questions you’ll ask, to get the audience speaking. And then weave these into your delivery.

There are lots of great things about doing this:

  • You enjoy your presentations more – they’re more interactive
  • They enjoy your presentations more – they’re more interactive
  • You reach consensus quicker (after all, people are wedded to things they’ve helped create)
  • It takes the pressure off you. You don’t have to be wonderfully engaging for 30-minutes. You just need to be part of a chat. You might only speak for half the time. That’s miles easier

Best of all?

Audiences never say “well, you clearly prepared some wonderful questions”.

Instead, they’ll say “I enjoyed that conversation – thank you”.

Action Point

For your next presentation, identify 1-2 questions you can ask for each slide. Then, when you’re practising your run-through, practise asking these questions as well. That way, they’ll feel natural when you ask them.

In fact, there are four other things to master when you make presentations. Here’s a short, free video explaining what they are, and how to be better at each of them.