By Steve Hudgik
Start with the goals of your presentation. What do you want your audience to learn or what actions do you want them to take after your presentation?
Next, compile a list of the topics and questions you'll need to cover to achieve your goals. Organize them in a logical order and add sketches of illustrations or charts that will reinforce each point you want to make. This will give you an illustrated outline.
Add brief notes on ideas regarding how and what to present for each item on your outline.
As you start to flesh out your presentation, use techniques in your visuals that will help hold the audience's attention. You probably already know many ways to do this.
One technique is to build questions into your visuals. As you show each new visual everyone's attention will go to that visual. Design your visuals to present information in two steps. The first might show something that creates the question, "How can this be?" The second visual answers the question.
Other techniques include using a variety of approaches and throwing a surprise or two into your presentation.
Create sketches for each of your visuals and simplify them. You can't include everything on your visuals. Don't fill the page to the edges with text and graphics. Don't use more than two or three fonts on a visual. And be sure they can be read by everyone in the room.
Make just one point on a visual. Keep it simple. Use the visual to support what you are saying, rather than to simply repeat everything you say.
We've all heard that "a picture is worth a 1,000 words." It's true. You can focus attention and make your point quicker, and in a way that will be retained better, by including pictures on your visuals.
Clip art on the web or CD-ROM are great places to find simple images to help make your point.
Color emphases the points you want to make. It makes your visuals more dynamic and helps increase comprehension.
You can use a color poster printer, or color your visuals with markers or colored pencils. Use a label printer to add color lettering. Use different color paper for different parts of your presentation. Paste on pictures from magazines. Don't overdo it. Colors should not be overwhelming or confusing. Use two or three well-chosen colors to highlight and draw attention to the points you want to make.