Presentation Preparation: 2 Ways to Know Stuff

Michael Gibson
5 min readMay 17, 2021

Presentation Preparation: When it doesn’t happen

Big sigh.

Here we go again.

Another presenter is winging it.

Another panelist is hearing questions for the first time.

Another expert is relying on their experience without thinking through how to communicate that experience with others.

The audience is frustrated because the presenter is not prepared.

The emoji for awkwardness.
Presentation Preparation prevents painful experiences. Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Presentation Preparation is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Your approach depends on the assignment.

Be determined to be prepared. Unless called on for an impromptu presentation, you have a responsibility to deliver presentations that have been prepared and practiced.

Know your hope. Know your presentation goal. And then prepare the content.

When assigned a presentation, there are two ways that you can know stuff:
you can know it from experience, or you can know it from research.

Skeptical face.
Ever felt this way when hearing an unprepared presentation? Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

Presentation Preparation Based on Experience

Over the past decade, I have attended many conferences. Sometimes, event organizers sought to provide information from experienced people in a specific field. These panel discussions often the most frustrating presentations to attend. Panelists would usually arrive with little (or no) presentation preparation. Perhaps organizers told them they would not need to prepare, that all they needed to do was get on stage and answer questions. Audience members could tell that panelists were hearing those questions for the first time. Speaking in front of hundreds of people, they were winging it. It was not good. There was no presentation preparation.

Being unprepared, the experts would share accurate information in confusing ways. After a few minutes, the audience became distracted. They were not engaged because the content was disorganized. It was accurate, but it was not helpful. The conference organizers could increase…

Michael Gibson

Michael Gibson is a speaker, trainer, and instructional designer. His book, Big Presentations in Small Rooms, is available at Amazon.