Many people plan a presentation by brainstorming. I don’t recommend it. Brainstorming is an attempt to capture everything you know on a particular topic. That’s likely to overwhelm your audience.

Here’s an example of a brainstorm for a presentation on financial planning to small business-owners.

brainstorm-mediumBrainstorming to prepare a presentation leads to many problems:

1. You’re likely to end up having too much information in your presentation

In the brainstorm above, there are heaps of great points and nuggets of information that small business owners might find useful. It’s going to be difficult to decide which to include and which to discard. But if the presenter attempts to cover all these points, he’ll overload his audience with information. The more you include, the less your audience will remember.

2. You’re setting yourself up for a lot of editing work

So you realise that you need to cut down on all the points you’ve generated through brainstorming. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort to do that editing. You’ll have spent time brainstorming points, only to then spend time editing them out. Wasted time.

3. You risk not being able to find a focus for your presentation

All the points and ideas that you generate during brainstorming clutter up your thinking. In the brainstorm above, there are so many areas of interest that’s it’s going to be difficult to decide what should be the focus of the presentation. And a tight focus is the secret of an effective presentation.

4. You may end up with unrelated points in your presentation

In an effective presentation each point contributes to the focus of the presentation and logically follows from what has been before. That’s difficult to achieve if you’ve generated a whole heap of unrelated points through your brainstorming.

An effective way to prepare a presentation

A key skill in planning an effective presentation is to drastically limit the amount of information you include. So instead of brainstorming as your first step in planning your presentation, decide on what is the one thing you want your audience to remember from your presentation.

The brutal truth is this:

Your audience is likely to remember only one thing from your presentation

Don’t leave what they remember up to chance. You decide what the one thing will be.

In the financial planning presentation, the presenter decided that the one thing they wanted people to remember was that small business owners need to save for their retirement and not rely on their business to fund their retirement.

Craft this into a Key Message

The one thing should be crafted into a clear and memorable Key Message . It should be easy for you to say and easy for your audience to grasp and remember. Here’s the key message for the financial planning presentation:

Your business is not your superannuation policy

So don’t brainstorm. Work out your Key Message – and then develop the rest of your presentation to support that Key Message. Preparing your presentation in this way, will save you time and effort and you’ll deliver a message your audience will remember.

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