Giving Presentations (part 2)

May 17, 2011

Today's post is part of my blog series of sharing chapter four of my book, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. I hope you find reading the book over the next couple weeks to be enjoyable and beneficial to you as a leader.

This is part two about how to give presentations. Enjoy!


I noticed that my ability to communicate drastically improved when I began to take time to prepare for my talk.  (News flash!)  As I began to take more time and effort to prepare for my presentations I also noticed that my confidence level improved and my nervousness level decreased.  Here’s my process for preparing for a talk.


This is key in developing a talk because every single idea, point and story you share will illustrate this main purpose.  Sometimes the purpose of my talk is to recruit new volunteers.  Sometimes it’s to ask for a donation.  Other times it’s to simply inform people of what we do.  For instance, I spoke to a Kiwanis Club in our town of Turlock that gives donations to serve people, so my main objective was to ask them for a donation.  Everything I shared was aimed at compelling them to give a donation to A Day of Hope.  If I gave a presentation to a class of college students, my goal was often to encourage them to volunteer.  So my purpose would be, to give information and tell stories which will compel my audience to volunteer their time to support A Day of Hope.

It’s important to remember that when you give a talk, it’s not how much you share that counts, it’s how clearly you share it.  One of the people I constantly look to for leadership guidance and teaching is Andy Stanley who is Lead Pastor at North Point Community Church in Atlanta, GA.  Andy is an amazing communicator and one thing he does exceptionally well is narrow his talk down to one point.  He doesn’t bounce around and share 15 steps to become a better leader, and he doesn’t say, “10 To-Do’s for More Effectiveness at Work.”  He shares, “What gets recognized, gets repeated” or “Only do what only you can do.”  He focuses on one key point, brings it home, and knocks it out of the park!  When giving talks, don’t worry about trying to cover everything.  Narrow it down to one main purpose.


I next outline principles that will support and explain my main purpose.


I always pay attention to the main purpose of my talk when filling my outline with ideas, stories, and quotes.  If I come up with an idea or story that doesn’t match up with the main purpose, then I scratch it.  Nothing makes it into my outline that doesn’t support my main purpose of the talk. 


I’m a big believer in writing out my talk word for word but not saying it word for word.  What’s this mean?  It means I write out every word for every story and idea I plan to share in my talk.  I write them out with a pad of paper and pen, one story or idea per page, so I can reorganize them easily if I want to change the order of my talk.  It’s important to note that even after I write out an entire ten minute talk word for word, I don’t speak my talk word for word.  I speak as what fancy communicators (and professors who love to confuse you) call “extemporaneously.”  This is the act of speaking with a small amount of notes, but you’re talking in a conversational type of manner without having memorized the words you want to say.  You have an idea of what you want to say and how, but you don’t recite your talk word for word.


This is the first time I use a computer for my presentation.  Everything in the first four steps has been done with a pen and pad of paper.  Pen and paper is what I use, but it’s not required.  Use what you feel most comfortable with.  The best example I can give you of the outlines I use to speak is to actually show it to you.  I’ve listed an example in the appendix.  The key to making a good outline is making it easy to read and reference in front of an audience.  Make your main points in large enough letters that they’re visible and easy to read while standing.


Now that I’ve got my presentation pretty well outlined, I always give it a couple of practice runs to check the timing and the cadence of the presentation.  I make sure that everything flows well and that it goes ok.  If any slight changes need to be made, I can do that to my outline.

Now that you’re an expert preparer for presentations, how do you get the opportunity to give them?  How do you network with people to be able to speak at their organization, club, committee, or classroom?  The good thing is that many local Rotary Clubs and service clubs in your area are always looking for local organizations that can presentation to their club. 

If you do begin to speak and you do a great job at it, word will quickly spread and you will be recommended to speak at other clubs and organizations.  An example is when my girlfriend, Jennifer, gave a presentation to a local Rotary Club about international adoption from Bethany Christian Services.  She did such an amazing job that the person at the Rotary Club gave her the name and phone number of the president of another Rotary Club in the area suggesting she contact him and present to their Rotary as well.

To help you in your search to spread the word about the work you do, here’s a list of possible places you might be able to contact about giving presentations:

  • Rotary clubs
  • Kiwanis service clubs
  • Toastmasters
  • Lions clubs
  • College classes
  • Volunteer groups
  • Churches
  • Local committees

When giving presentations remember the bigger the goal you have, the bigger the people you will attract.  Speak as often as you can, be bold, and you’ll be successful in giving presentations about the great work you’re doing.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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