Preparation is the key to any successful presentation. I will present this information in the context of a homeschool lesson, but it will help you with any kind of presentation from a high school speech class to a presentation in front of the Board of Directors.
4 Steps to a Great Presentation
There are, in my opinion, there are 4 important steps to a lesson or presentation: Identify your point; Select an attention getter; Get the group involved; Drive it home
Identify your main point
This is the most commonly skipped step. Not that people don’t know what they are trying to get across, because they do… in their mind. Unfortunately, we often make the mistake of assuming that what is clear in our mind will be equally clear our audience’s mind. To avoid this mistake, I suggest that you write out in one sentence what you hope your class/children will take away from the lesson or presentation. Be very clear.
I use Les Mis as my example again in this podcast. One simplified principle that I might teach would be: We should treat others with kindness even when they have mistreated us.
This is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR PRESENTATION because it gives the rest of your preparation direction. Now that you have that selected, you can move forward and select attention getters, crowd involvement, and invitations to act that correspond with your message.
These are endless in types and styles. It can be a joke, story, thoughtful question, news story, statistic, personal example, object lessons, etc. Make sure that this attention getter, whatever you decide to use, MUST LEAD YOUR LISTENERS TO YOUR MAIN POINT!
I was in San Jose earlier this summer at a Youth Speaker University seminar on motivational speaking. Josh Shipp gave an awesome example of this practice. He started by sharing a story of a man in Harlem that raised a full-size tiger in his little apartment. Then, Josh used that story to get us to think about tigers in our own lives that we need to remove for our own safety. It was an awesome speech and I have remembered over the last few months. It may have been the most memorable thing of my summer. How would you like your students (or the Board of Directors) to say that about your next lesson or presentation?
Get the Group Involved
Learning is an individual decision. That is why two students can have totally different experiences while sitting through the same class. That is why the attention getter is so important. It will help them decide that they have something to gain from giving you their attention. Now, this transition is very important. You need to take them from the attention getter to some form of involvement. That involvement will vary depending on your setting. If you are doing a math or science lesson, then you will need to make the involvement very hands on. If you are presenting to a group of 200, that involvement will have to be more intellectual. Regardless, you have to engage the group somehow.
You can do this by giving them the opportunity to practice through worksheets (boring) or some experiment (way more fun). If you have a large group and cannot do individual hands on activities, then you will need to have them write something down, remember a past experience, or share something with the person sitting next to them. This is where the teaching is going to take place. It is where they will actually teach themselves the point that you are focusing on: REMEMBER EVERYTHING WE DO TIES BACK TO THAT MAIN POINT. Their participation should lead them to discover what you are trying to teach them. If it doesn’t, then they will never come to really believe what you are trying to teach, and as a result, it will not have any lasting power.
Drive the Point Home
This is the part of the lesson that will make the most impact. This is where you will help your group identify what they need to do because of this experience with you. If you do not give them an action item, then their time with you has been wasted. Even in Math or Science, your students should leave with something to act on. This will take more creativity in some settings than in others.
If you are giving a motivational speech, (see my reference to Josh Shipp), then this is easy. What are you trying to motivate them to do? Well, that will be your invitation to act. If they have discovered on their own that what you are saying rings true, the inviation part is the easiest of the presentation or class. They have learned for themselves that what you are saying is true and as a result, they will want to act on that information or knowledge.