21 Questions To Ask Before Every Presentation

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 6, 2012 – 6:08 am

When we work with new presentation training clients, they’re often surprised that we sit and talk for a while before we get to the actual “training.”

That conversation is critical. We use that valuable time together to answer some basic diagnostic questions that will help determine how they develop and deliver their presentations.

This post could easily have included 137 questions, but I’ve limited it to 21 questions you should ask before every speech or presentation. This article doesn’t attempt to be comprehensive, so I hope you’ll add other questions to the comments section.

Here are 21 questions to ask before every presentation.

QUESTIONS ABOUT LOGISTICS

  1. 1. How much time have you been allotted for your presentation?
  2. 2. Of that, how much time will you reserve for questions?
  3. 3. Will someone introduce you? (If so, have you provided them with a bio or suggested introduction?)
  4. 4. From where will you present? 
  5. 5. How will you present? (e.g. from a prepared script, using bullets, from memory)

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE AUDIENCE

  1. 6. How many people will be in attendance?
  2. 7. Who, specifically, are they?
  3. 8. What are their concerns, challenges and/or goals? 
  4. 9. How much does the audience already know about your topic?
  5. 10. How much do they need to know in order for you to achieve your goal?
  6. 11. How would you describe the audience’s current feelings about your topic?
  7. 12. From the perspective of the audience, why should they care about your speech?

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GOAL

  1. 13. What is your goal for this speech?
  2. 14. What is the single most important thing you want the audience to remember?
  3. 15. What are the one, two, or three points you’d like to make to help the audience remember that single thing?
  4. 16. If you’re successful, what will the audience think/feel/do after your speech?

QUESTIONS ABOUT CONTENT AND VISUALS

  1. 17. How will you open your talk?
  2. 18. How will you close your talk?
  3. 19. What is your call to action
  4. 20. Will you use visuals to accompany your speech?
  5. 21. If yes, what types? (e.g. PowerPoint, whiteboard, poster board, video clips)

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

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    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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