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Presentation Skills
Presentation Development
By Randall P. Whatley, President, Cypress Media Group

Presentations should always be tailored to your audience. Your knowledge of the audience to which you will speak is an important factor in the success of your presentations.

Audience analysis

Presentations should always be tailored to your audience. Your knowledge of the audience to which you will speak is an important factor in the success of your presentations. When you understand your audience, their existing knowledge of your topic, and their desires, you can present from their point of view and give examples that relate to their interests. Audiences respond more favorably to presentations they believe are designed for them.

When preparing a presentation, you first need to do an audience analysis by working through the following checklist and then tailor your presentation to the findings:

  • What is their background (e.g., educational level, experience, gender, cultural influences, and age)?
  • Why is your audience present?
  • What knowledge does your audience have of your subject?
  • What is the audience's consensus attitude toward your subject?
  • What is your audience's attitude toward you personally?
    Is there a particular group of audience members that your presentation needs to be geared toward?
  • What are the group dynamics of your audience?
  • Who are the leaders in your audience?
  • What will be the size of your audience?
  • How much time will you have to present?


After finishing your audience analysis, you should perform a self-analysis to answer the following three questions:

  • What is your real knowledge of your subject?
  • Is your preparation time adequate for the type of presentation that you plan to deliver?
  • What is your real interest in the subject, the occasion, and the audience?

Once you have completed this self-analysis, collect your thoughts about the presentation by using the following system:

  • Make notes of what you already know about your subject
  • Make a list of subject information that you are lacking
    Research and gather your missing information
  • Focus your research to:
    • Prove your points
    • Clarify your points
    • Add interest to your points
  • Gather a variety of information to use in your presentation
    • Examples
    • Quotations
    • Stories
    • Comparisons/Contrasts
    • Statistics
    • Audio-visual supports


Your third and final presentation development analysis step is to perform an occasion-analysis by finding the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the meeting where you will speak?
  • What is the location of the meeting?
  • What facilities will be provided to you?
  • What is the meeting agenda and your slot on the agenda?
  • What is your exit strategy after you make your presentation?

In order to be fully prepared for the logistics of your presentation, complete the following arrangements checklist before each presentation:

  • Contact person's name and contact information (i.e., phone, fax, pager, cell phone numbers)
  • Clear directions to the speaking location
  • Written confirmation of the time of your presentation
  • Travel arrangements
  • Parking instructions
  • Availability of speaking tools (e.g., podium; computer, power supply; microphone, lighting)
  • Seating arrangement of the room
  • Sound system availability
  • Water or beverages
  • Restroom location
  • Your introduction
  • The procedure to handle questions
  • Expectations following your presentation (e.g., meetings, reception, press statement)
  • Any necessary additional arrangements

Organizational outline

The last step of your presentation development is to prepare your organizational outline using the following format:


  • Allocate 15% of your presentation time
  • Capture audience's attention
  • Preview your presentation by telling them what you will tell them


  • Allocate 75% of your presentation time
  • Make no more than three main points
  • Arrange your main points logically in one of the following patterns
    • Time
    • Topic
    • Problem/solution
  • Support your main points with facts


  • Allocate 10% of your presentation time
  • Review main points by telling the audience what you told them
  • Ask audience to do something in response to your presentation
  • Close your presentation with a memorable statement


Randall P. Whatley, is a 26-year media veteran with diverse business experience. Whatley is president of Cypress Media Group, Inc. ( ), an Atlanta-based advertising, public relations, and training firm. He has extensive experience advising government officials, political candidates, public officials, and corporate executives on media relations and presentation skills. He has also written two syndicated newspaper columns and numerous magazine articles. Whatley has hosted his own television and radio program and appeared often as a TV and radio program guest, including a CNN appearance. He has produced hundreds of TV and radio ads and taught a myriad of seminars ranging from Public Relations Writing to Media Relations. He can be reached by e-mail at

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