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    Building the Content of Your Presentation

    The vast majority of questions I get from visitors and PowerPoint users relate to adding extras to presentations. People spend hours on things like building and picking just the right graphics for the presentation, adding sounds to the slides, and moving between slides in the best way possible. Unfortunately, these extras are not the most important parts of the presentation. The most important part is the content. One of the stumbling blocks for presentation creators is the actual process of creating the content. This article will share one process, the one I tend to use on multiple audience presentations.

    In order to help you create the best content possible, we are going to step through the creation of a group of presentations being created by a non-profit organization to arrange support for a new project to have teens provide yard services to the homebound.

    Know Your Audience

    One key to good content, is knowing your audience. In our example, you would not present the same information to the group of teen aged volunteers who will be doing the yard services as you would to the companies around town that you wish to have help fund the project. So, before you create your presentation, you would do an audience analysis.

    One way to do your audience analysis is to make a list of all the groups involved in the project that you will need to present information to. In our case, that list would include the two groups you have listed above:

    • The companies you are planning to approach for funds
    • The teens that will be doing the yard services

    In addition, you would probably be presenting information to these other audiences:

    • The companies you will to approach for direct donations
    • The adults who will be supervising the teens
    • The homebound people who will be signing up for the services

    This is not probably a complete list, but is enough to get us started. From here, we move to deciding what each of these groups would need to know. In other words, you need to define your messages.

    Defining messages

    The messages for your presentation are a high level gloss of the content you wish to convey. Different audiences may have similar messages, but some groups may need to have differing detail levels on the messages. In this stage, you should make yourself a two column chart. The left column is the audiences you have defined. The right column is the messages this audience needs to hear. Our sample chart would look like this:



    Companies providing funds

    • Main goal and overview
    • Advantages of program
    • Amount of funding needed
    • Why they should fund

    Companies providing direct donations

    • Main goal and overview
    • Advantages of program
    • Equipment you need donated

    Teens to do work

    • Main goal
    • Why program is needed
    • Expected program goals
    • Amount of commitment expected
    • How they will be assigned
    • Supervision

    Homebound to use services

    • Main goal
    • How they were choosen for program
    • What will be done
    • Timeline for completion
    • Who will be doing work

    Adult supervisors

    • Main goal
    • Why program is needed
    • Why they are needed
    • What will be expected of the teens
    • Amount of commitment expected
    • Details on supervisory tasks
    • Additional training that will be provided

    As this list is developed, you will find (as we did above) that some of the information goes to all audiences. You also can see that some information is developed for one audience, but you may want to refer to it for another. An example of this is the expectations of the teens. This information needs to be stated explicitly for the teens, but also will be needed for reference by the adults.

    Your next step is to refine these messages and convert them to an outline.

    Slide Outline

    The first stage of your outline contains the slide titles you expect to have for each presentation. Here is where you are going to define the information for each of the messages listed above. You are not going to go into a large amount of detail, as that is the actual slide content, but instead you are going to define what will be said for each slide.

    In this stage, you also will be defining the common sections of the presentations and the inserted files or custom shows. For example, you know that you need to present the main goal of the program to each audience. Because this is a section that is going to be used in multiple presentations, you may want to envision it as its own presentation. This way, you only create these slides once, but can use them multiple times. This stage will also show you where you need data to back up your assertations, as well as what information you expect to present graphically and what infomration you expect to present textually.

    The second stage of your outline is to expand the content for each slide. Write the text in bullets and short phrases. Define what points you wish to get across in the graphics. You will also want to decide if there are specific sounds or videos that you will be using on some of the slides to make your point.

    How to Present the Information

    Now that you have the basic information down for your slides, you need to decide whether each group will be receiving the information in the same manner. Here is where you decide if you will be presenting to each group, or whether some groups will be going through the information on their own.

    In our example, the presentations to the corporations will probably be stand up presentations. This allows you to answer extra questions, provide details when needed, and ad lib when needed. For this audience, you probably want to create an additional set of FAQ slides which can be built as you present to each organization. On the other hand, you may decide that the information going to the homebound participants would be best done as a self-running CD based presentation which they can view at their leisure. For this audience, you would need to ensure that your informaiton is clearly presented in the slides and in the voice overs you create for each slide.

    Creating the Presentations

    You have now done the vast majority of the work that will be needed to create you presentations. You still have a few steps left in the process:

    • Create the masters (the look and feel of the presentations)

    • Input the information you have created into the PowerPoint files

    • Finish the presentations

    • Practice the presentations

    These steps are covered in the articles Back to Basics, Part 1 and Back to Basics, Part 2. Check them out for more information!





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