We've all 'winged' it a few times and you can get by doing that, but you do not make a very good impression. Don't beat yourself up about it either, just resolve to keep doing better and to prepare your presentation.
Preparation is KEY. Here are the main elements for effective preparation:
1 - Identify your outcome - what is the purpose of your presentation? Is it to persuade, inform, entertain, inspire, motivate, captivate, or a combination? Become crystal clear in what your objective is and what value you are wanting to provide for your audience.
2 - Create your outline - although your outline will probably change, begin by creating an outline of the key points that you want to cover that will achieve the outcome you desire. Your outline has 3 parts - an introduction, the body and an ending. Usually, you'll create an outstanding introduction and ending after you have created the middle part of your presentation.
3 - Research your topic - Now you are ready to create the parts of the presentation - these are bullet points and fully written out text. The purpose of writing is to gain knowledge and to imprint it into your psyche. The more you write, the more you are learning and the more you are immersing yourself into your presentation. But, you won't be reading it unless you have a flair for dramatic or humorous reading and it's expected that you'll be reading it. Use the Internet, books, and stay relevant - include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media networking sites for your research.
4 - Research your audience - If possible, contact your attendees and find out what they are expecting/wanting. Otherwise, contact the meeting coordinator/planner to find out as much as possible about the audience. Ask what they are needing, what is the average age, professions, etc. Get to know who they are and why they are coming to hear you speak.
5 - Prepare your visual aids - PowerPoint? If you have to have PowerPoint, less is more. The less on each slide the better. We'll devote a blog post just on PowerPoint. Think through what other visuals you might have, handouts, flip chart. Make a list of what you will need and test any electronic devices before the day of the event if at all possible. Have a backup plan if there is a fail point. A word of caution, avoid doing any live demos that involve the Internet if you can. Intend to have everything you need on your computer's hard drive or a thumb drive. And be sure to test before the day of and the same day of the event at the meeting location.
6 - Practice your presentation - Go crazy!! Practice with a live audience, practice at the event location (if you can), practice in front of a full length mirror, videotape your presentation and review it, practice with your visual aids. Consider any time you make your presentation as another practice. The more your practice, the better you will get. Practice is the 4th P, and it's also part of your preparation.
7 - Visualize your success - Take a few minutes and actually visualize a successful presentation (with eyes closed and a few deep breaths before you start). See, feel and hear yourself going through all the motions of getting to the location, arriving early, feeling energized and confident, mingling with the guests as they arrive and talking with them, starting your presentation with a bang, being listened to, people on the edge of their seats, ending to the loud sound of applause and a standing ovation! People walking up to you at the end (a mob of them) wanting to get an appointment with you. Make yourself be the success you want to be - it's your visual - !
Next up - the 4th P: PRACTICE - practice is the ACCELERATOR.
Preparation is your VEHICLE - with Practice you will accelerate your success as a great speaker.
Passion is your DRIVER
Power is your FUEL (Knowledge about your topic)
Preparation is your VEHICLE
Practice is your ACCELERATOR
VROOM ! VROOM ! you are on your way !!