How to Plan a Business Presentation

………..He who fails to plan, plans to fail  !

The origin of this proverb is somewhat elusive: Some attribute it to Winston Churchill, others to Benjamin Franklin, and yet others to Alan Lakein, author of self-help books on Time Management.

Regardless of its origin, it is a gentle reminder of why a roadmap is important to keeping a clear objective in mind.  Witness the rise in the use of  GPS in many automobiles!

When it comes to planning a business presentation, the roadmap provides perspective on the audience, the product and the purpose for speaking. It is not at all a lengthy process.  Consider:


  1. Audience: Now that you have created a profile of the target customer, you know who they are, what they need and what they are interested in.  The target customer recognizes the problem/need themselves  and the pain it is causing them.  So plan to answer their questions regarding the consequences of doing nothing or changing to your product
  2. Occasion: Now that you understand the nature of the gathering, where it will be held, and how long it will last, you must plan your approach based on where you will appear on the programme, and if there are other presenters talking on the same problem/need.
  3. Plan your message: Ensure you know what you want to tell the target audience and decide on how you will present that message (stated or implied) to communicate precisely what you want the audience to understand.  Plan to send a message that is strong and clearly stated to show you understand their problem/need – no rambling, no ambigity,and above all, to answer the question “What did the speaker say?”
  4. Plan to meet target audience’s expectations: Ideally the audience wants to know that your solution – your product (in this case your presentation) satisfies their problem/need. Plan the answer to one burning question “What’s in this for me, will it make my life better?” and support it with credible evidence that will help them to visualize benefits and value to their lives, even for a brand new product/service.  You need to plan for conversions!


The Product you are promoting is your ‘presentation’, your solution to the audience’s problem/need.


  1. Plan your objective: Know why you are presenting your message to them at this time.  They have a problem/need, you have the solution.  Decide whether you will inform, persuade or motivate them to react positively to your Call to Action.  Your objective is to influence the way they think, feel and behave.  Plan on how you will keep the message and objective together throughout your presentation, otherwise you could ramble and they will lose interest in what you are saying and tune you out.
  2. Plan the response you are seeking from the target audience:  Know what you want from them, what specific responses you are seeking in order to get their commitment when called to action.  Do they have to fill out a form, make a phone call, write you  cheque or contact you later? 
  3. The Call to Action response will be an indicator of whether or not the audience is moved to action – Did they follow your instructions,  did they consider you trust worthy?

As you plan business presentations, you will clarify your objective and will ensure that you are creating a foundation to help you meet those objectives.

My next post will cover the how to structure the actual presentation.


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