Presentation Prep

I’ll be guest speaking at the Northern Alabama STC Chapter Meeting this Thursday (members only–sorry!). I’ll post my remarks next week. Right now I’m in the process of rehearsing my talk. I thought I’d share my “process,” such as it is. It doesn’t change much just because I’ve shifted from standing in front of a group to talking on a Zoom meeting.


I set up my talks in PowerPoint first. PPT is actually a great outlining tool since it’s bullet-driven. I’ll set up the top-level organization first, then start adding slides in between the major sections, adding whatever images amuse me along the way.

With the outline and bullet set up, I usually find that I need an actual script in the notes to help keep me on track. This is the speech I’ll give, more or less (I ad lib on occasion).


One key thing I’ve learned after a couple of “fails” in high school and college is that it’s not enough to “practice” in my head. I need to practice speaking aloud, especially if the presentation is rather lengthy (>10 minutes). Words that make sense when I’m typing them, for example, don’t roll off the tongue as easily when spoken aloud–proof positive that I write for the eye, not the ear.

I also need to practice with the technology, i.e., pressing “enter” to advance the bullets or slides. That way I’m taking off guard by any transitions.

Sometimes I’ll even rehearse my “ad-libbing” or snarky commentary. The trick is to rehearse things so well that this presenting thing seems like the easiest, most enjoyable thing in the world. I can assure you: it is not.

And now I guess I’d better get back to work. Those words won’t speak themselves. Have a pleasant week!

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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1 Response to Presentation Prep

  1. Pingback: Summary of “Presentation Prep” from Heroic Technical Writing: Advice and Insights on the Business of Technical Communication | Technical Writing and Editing

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