Issue #140 August 7, 2007

PowerPoint Tip: The Value of Preparing Early

When you travel, it is almost inevitable that you will see someone working on their presentation in the airport waiting area or on the airplane. Inevitably, they will get off the plane, jump into a rental car and drive to a meeting room where they will present that set of slides. By leaving the preparation to the last minute, you don’t give yourself four advantages that preparing early gives you. First, when you prepare early, you leave yourself time to let the ideas percolate in your mind. You can review your presentation without being rushed and make revisions. This makes your presentation better. Presenters regularly tell me that they thought of a great way to present an idea after the presentation and wished they had thought of it before they presented. By preparing early, you give yourself the time to think of these great ideas. If you have ever arrived at the presentation site and realized that you have forgotten a cord or piece of equipment, you know the next advantage of preparing early. I’ve seen presenters forget their power cords, presentation remotes and all sorts of other equipment. By preparing early, you can make a list of all of these pieces of equipment so you don’t forget any of them. When you prepare at the last minute, too often your slides turn into a dump of what you are going to say. Then you end up reading the slides to the audience, which is the most annoying thing you can do according to the surveys of audiences. By preparing early, you have time to think of visuals that allow you to have more of a discussion about the ideas. You also have time to prepare the visuals, such as graphs, diagrams and photos. Finally, when you prepare early, you can relax and enjoy the experience. I remember one presentation years ago when I left everything to the last minute and was creating slides late the night before the presentation. I wasn’t relaxed and didn’t feel as confident as I could have. The presentation went OK, but it could have been so much better if I had been well rested. When you prepare early, you can check your presentation and slides to make sure everything works the way you expect it to. Members of the Think Outside The Slide Members Site have access this week to a new video where I demonstrate a number of ways to test your slides before you present. If you are not a member, watch the video tour and sign up at .