Presenting is an art form. Successfully captivating an audience is a difficult skill to master; you want to motivate and inspire them rather than leaving them struggling to stay awake!

So, what’s the key to success? Presentation preparation is crucial, but often we don’t know where to begin! You may have an idea growing in your mind, begin writing your content and then find yourself wandering far off on a tangent. And, once you get to present, you feel flustered or not in control. Certainly, this is the reality most of us will face – it’s important to recognise that you aren’t alone!

This article sets out to highlight the common challenges presenters face and, most importantly, how to overcome these. With the simple tricks in hand, you’ll be able to confidently present to an audience thus ensuring the valuable information you are sharing is fully taken in.

#Challenge 1: Choosing the content for your slides

It’s likely you already have the topic and content for your presentation in mind, the visual aids you utilise, however, can make or break how effective this presentation is. Often, the slide content is overlooked and as a result, becomes a last-minute, botch job that doesn’t really add to the presentation. In fact, it can actually detract from what you are saying.

So, what can you do to keep your slide content light whilst still providing you with enough prompts to ensure you remain on track? Look at your speech sentences and transform these into simple keywords and icons. This triggers you as the presenter to say the right thing (it can be difficult to remember a 45-minute presentation by heart!) – and, the audience will appreciate a simple visual aid that supports what the presenter is talking about, rather than it competing for attention.

TOP TIP: A little extra presentation preparation tip is to keep your design across slides consistent. If you flit between several different designs, your audience may be left confused and as a result, not pay full attention! And, remember to ‘squint test’ these visuals.

#Challenge 2: What to say next

Losing your place

When you are presenting for an extended period of time, you can easily lose your train of thought. Typically, presenters become flustered should they lose their place but the key is to simply take a deep breath and regain your composure. Move onto the next section or ask the audience for help – it’s a clever way of engaging and humanizing yourself! You can even inject a little humour into it, but try to only do so once. Should you make any further mistakes, simply acknowledge them and move forward. Over-apologizing and dwelling on the mishap will have a negative impact on the overall impression you make as a presenter.

Stumped by a question

You may well have successfully prepared your presentation however if an audience member asks a tough question, you may find yourself stuck in a corner. If you don’t have a clear answer, provide an honest response instead; this will be far more respected than ineffective guesswork.

When you are faced with a question you haven’t previously considered, note the query and get back with the answer at a later date. However, if you make this promise be sure to follow through – otherwise, you may damage your reputation as this lack of response will be known by all present in the audience.

#Challenge 3: Forgetting about your audience

Finding your flow whilst presenting allows you to speak with ease and confidence but you could get a little too wrapped up in the delivery of your topic and neglect the needs of your audience. You may become frustrated if an audience member goes to ask a question in the middle of your presentation, particularly if you know you’ll be answering any queries at the end. But, if you don’t make this clear from the offset, your audience may feel forgotten. So, to combat this issue, ensure you start your presentation by outlining what you’ll be covering, whether you’ll be stopping for a break, if you’ll be taking questions throughout or at the end and so on.

Providing these ‘signposts’ signals from the offset will enable your audience to manage their expectations, ultimately ensuring they can relax and fully engage with your presentation.

TOP TIP: Remember, eye contact with your audience is everything! In addition to detailing what you’ll be covering, you also want to make sure you maintain engagement. Looking at notes, your slides or even the ceiling will again suggest you have forgotten about your audience.

#Challenge 4: Sound issues

Mic with excessive static

If you are presenting in front of a large audience, you’ll likely have access to a mic to ensure all those present can hear you clearly. Whilst this is extremely useful as it means you won’t have to shout across the room, it comes with its own set of challenges – usually, these are unforeseen but effective presentation preparation will see you overcome these hurdles. If there is an issue with your mic, try to remain calm and collected; continue with confidence, and if no replacement is available move closer to your audience. Reconfirm that everyone can hear you and don’t let the issue takeover your presentation, by doing so you’ll keep your audience engaged even under the poor circumstances!

Loud noises outside your control

Whether it be a cellphone ringing or construction drilling nearby, loud disturbances are always unwelcome when presenting to a group. Of course, there are certain preventative measures you can take such as reminding your audience to silence their phones, but the majority will be outside your control. If there are no alternative spaces available, make the most of the situation by acknowledging the noise, passing when required and proceeding on without making a fuss. Your audience will be grateful for your competent handling of this scenario!

presentation preparation

Presentation preparation: What makes a great presenter?

We’ve explored a few of the most common challenges faced when presenting, but what truly makes for a great presenter? Of course, presentation is key – as the saying goes, fail to prepare then prepare to fail, but what other qualities do you need to successfully engage with your audience? Consider watching Steve Jobs, an unrivalled public speaker, and take note of his ability to hold the attention of such a large room – identify patterns and particular methods to utilise in your next presentation!

Here, we’ve compiled a quick-fire list of some of the top qualities needed to present highly effectively:

  • Confidence – to be believable and interesting as a presenter, you need to have confidence; the more you practice, the quicker this will develop and build.
  • Energy – dynamic and animated speakers are inspiring to listen to, after all, energy is contagious! Try taking improv classes if you are struggling to naturally give off the right energy to your audience.
  • Clarity – rambling on and on is highly ineffective as your audience is likely to become either confused or worse, bored! Clarify your ideas and thoughts when creating your presentation and like a stand-up comedian, refine and polish up your act before taking to the stage.
  • Interactivity – whilst you may not immediately think it, presentations are a two-way street. Your audience is your partner and to succeed, you need to ask them questions and engage their minds rather than just allowing them to sit there taking little in.
  • Entertaining – you don’t need to be a comedian, but injecting a little light-hearted humour into your presentation can ensure your audience remain engaged. Avoid the dreaded yawns cropping up with a few jokes sprinkled throughout your talk.
  • Deep insight – become the expert in your field by immersing yourself in the subject prior to your presentation. Share your valuable insight and provide new information your audience won’t have heard before.

Whilst it can seem daunting speaking in front of an audience, it’s a crucial skill within the business world – and, if you can master this, you’ll be in an excellent position within your industry. The reality is that to successfully present, you need to prepare and dedicate time to refining this for the future – mastering this skill is not something you can do overnight!

Looking for support with your presentation preparation? Speak to one of our dedicated Azimuth experts today by contacting us at or call +44 (0)1483 24 33 81. We’ll be more than happy to discuss how we can help you and with over 20 years of experience across a range of industries, we have the innovative, proven tools that can help you unlock the true potential of your business. What are you waiting for?

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