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by Bob Bailey

Cold chills, sweats, trembling of the hands; these are frequently the first reactions to hearing the words, "You have to do a critical presentation to our key customer." But the first response should be to consider the audience and the opportunity.

Every presentation is a strategic event. It is the confluence of preparation, promotion, and logistics. You have prepared, the audience is in front of you, and the room is ready. Now what? Why are you here? Before you get caught up in the details you must decide what your strategic purpose is.

Define your goal before doing anything else. Why, exactly, are you making this presentation to this audience. This is a chance for you to stir the audience into some action that benefits you. What would you like for them to do when you are finished? Do you want them to buy something? ..give you a call? ...visit your web site? Make sure you know exactly what you want them to do. Tell them what to do and make it easy for them to do it.

Define your three key points. Most of us, like jugglers, can only manage three balls in the air at once. Any more than that and thngs get dropped. So, pick out the three most important things that you want your audience to walk away with. These key points are central to your purpose and you will repeat them in some form in your opening, the body, and in your conclusion. The opening should attract attention to your main points. The body of your talk will expand and amplify. The conclusion will repeat and remind.

If you take the time to write down the goal and your three key points you will be more than halfway to a successful presentation. Make it into a poster and keep it in front of you as you go through the other steps.

Bob Bailey has been coaching presenters since 1989. He offers Presentation Preparation for critical presentations to key audiences. He also offers Propeller Presentations, a seminar for technicians who have to make presentations. For more tips and help call Bob at 301.587.3447 or email him at

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