Plan and Design

Unit 2 Plan, Design, Create and Deliver a Presentation


Remember to check in with your instructor for Discussion or E-mail messages.

Before you create a presentation, it is important to plan and outline the message you wish to convey. When working on a construction project, master carpenters abide by the rule “measure twice, cut once.” Likewise, when it comes to creating a presentation, taking the time to plan and prepare before beginning to create a presentation will not only make the presentation more enjoyable and effective but will ultimately save you time. Part of this planning is to identify the audience who will be listening to and/or watching the presentation and then to choose a medium that is appropriate for conveying the message to this audience. The key to being comfortable and relaxed in front of an audience when you deliver the presentation is preparation. When the content is organized in a logical manner, it is much easier to learn and to deliver.

Defining the Purpose of the Presentation

There are many different types of presentations. For a presentation to be successful, it is necessary to begin by defining the purpose. Before beginning, ask yourself – Is the presentation meant:

  • to inform?
  • to persuade?
  • to sell?
  • to educate?
  • to motivate?
  • to entertain?

If the presentation is intended to inform or educate, then the goal of the speaker is to increase the knowledge or ability of the audience by providing new information about an already familiar subject, process, event or concept.

If the presentation is intended to persuade, sell, or motivate, then the goal of the speaker is to change the attitude, belief, or behavior of the audience. The speaker may present opposing points of view on a particular subject, product, or issue allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions based on the facts presented; or, the speaker may present and explore a concept or policy concluding with a recommended course of action. This type of presentation can be much more challenging to create and deliver than one meant to inform or educate because it is often based on controversial subjects important not only to the speaker but also to the audience.

If the presentation is intended to entertain, then the goal of the speaker is to keep the audience engaged, amused, and interested in the content of the presentation.

Identifying the purpose helps to provide a focus for the speaker and ensures that a clear message is conveyed to the audience. Limit the number of related topics in the presentation to avoid confusion in the mind of the audience. Ensure that the main topic is clearly stated and then supported and reinforced throughout the entire presentation.

Developing the Content

To create an effective presentation, you must know your subject. If necessary, you may need to research some components of your topic. Research can enhance your credibility. Knowledge of the latest information in the subject area helps you to anticipate audience reaction and gives you time to prepare ways of dealing with potential controversies. The Internet is one source of current information, as well as traditional forms of media including newspapers and magazines. Personal interviews may also be helpful in developing the content of the presentation.

Creating Effective Text Presentations

Once the purpose has been identified and your topic researched, it is time to organize your presentation. The first slide in the presentation should provide an introduction to the topic, and the last slide should provide a conclusion. In between, there should be a natural flow to the presentation. Using PowerPoints Outline View is a very effective way to enter and organize the content of the presentation by arranging it into first, second, and third level headings. Each of these remaining slides in a presentation should contain only one main thought or idea. Too many thoughts or ideas on one slide may confuse the audience and cause the speaker to stray from the topic – don’t overwhelm the audience with too much information. Apply the 7 x 7 rule to the content of these remaining slides. This means that each slide should contain no more than seven lines (bullets) of text and each line of text should contain no more than seven words. This can be achieved by eliminating unnecessary articles, pronouns, and adjectives. Be sure that the grammatical structure of the phrases are parallel to one another and that font sizes are readable.

A good title slide contains the title and subtitle of the presentation.

A good introductory slide can build speaker confidence and help a speaker to relax. It should be designed to:

  • gain the attention of the audience
  • introduce the topic
  • forecast the main points

An effective concluding slide needs to be more than an opportunity for the speaker to say thank you. The Closing Slide should:

  • summarize the main points
  • leave the audience with something to remember

Guidelines for slides:

  • contain only one main idea
  • maintain a consistent layout
  • follow the 7 x 7 rule
  • keep phrases parallel
  • maintain a consistent style for all slides
    • use either capital letters or lowercase letters to start all listed points
    • use the same font sizes for listed points
  • font size should be no smaller than 24 point font size (with exceptions of axis labels, etc)
    • think about the delivery of the presentation and evaluate the font size for how it will be delivered
    • titles should be 32 point or larger; text should be 24 point

Before You Begin

You will be assigned a partner to work with this week while you do the practice presentations. You and your partner will review each other’s presentation and offer advice and help (your instructor can also give you some help if you need it). When the partners are assigned, there will also be a Discussion Board set up for the partners to post their practice presentations for review by the partner. You will have the discussion board available for both the presentations and the advice and help for each other. The assignments will be done on your own.

The 7 x 7 rule may be the one that needs the most work. Work at eliminating unnecessary articles, pronouns, and adjectives. Creating a list on a slide will often allow you great flexibility on a slide. Point format means that whole sentences are not required.

Following the suggestions for planning, preparation and delivery outlined above will put you on your way to creating and delivering an effective presentation.

Click the Next Topic arrow to proceed with Practice Activities.