There is no point in starting to make a cake if you don’t have the right ingredients.  It won’t turn out well.  There is no point in making PowerPoint™ slides if you don’t have the right ingredients for your presentation.  It won’t turn out well.  Even if your presentation is delivered with polish, it’s impact will be minimal.

The three key ingredients for a powerful presentation are Audience, Objective and Time.  Get these right and you will be successful.  Get any of these wrong and failure is a certainty.


Problem:  Giving the wrong presentation to the right audience or the right presentation to the wrong audience.  Presenters fail when they speak over the heads of their audience or when they cover material not relevant to the audience.

Solution:  Know your audience


  • Find the answers to the following questions and use this information to tailor your presentation to with the audience.

  • Why are these people here?

  • What is  their attitude toward me and my solution?

  • How well do they understand the topic?

  • Will anyone have a hidden agenda?

  • What questions or objections will I get?

  • Do I need to establish credibility with the audience?

  • If I were them, what would it take to convince me?

  • If the audience is too diverse consider breaking it up into two presentations – i.e., beginners vs. advanced or financial buyers vs user buyers.


Problem:  Talking about a topic rather than capturing the hearts and minds of the audience leading them to take action as a result of your presentation.

Solution:  Determine what you want the audience to Know, Do or Believe as a result of your presentation, then design a presentation that leads them there.  If, after your presentation, two audience members walk down the hall together and one says to the other, “What did you think of the presentation,” what is your desired response?  Design a presentation that will illicit that response.


  • Set a realistic objective for the time allotted for this audience.

  • Too little time? Just provide enough information to make the audience want to learn more and allot you more time at the next meeting.  You can’t close the deal if the final decision makers aren’t in the audience – set your objective to get a meeting with the final decision makers.


What do you want the audience to Know, Do or Believe as a result of your presentation?


Problem:  Believing this is your only chance to address this audience, you pack everything you know about the topic into this presentation hoping something will stick.  This is called the Spray and Pray method of presenting.  It usually just makes a mess.

Solution:  Set your objective for what you can realistically accomplish in the time allotted.


  • Ask for more time. They just might say yes.

  • Don’t go over your allotted time. It’s better to finish 10 minutes early than 1 minute late; especially if you’re on right before lunch.

Getting the Mix Right

Audience, Objective and Time are the ingredients that determine the likelihood of success before the first slide is created.  The best presenters create a presentation with a specific and realistic objective. They set an objective that can be accomplished with a particular audience in the allotted time.  Get this mix right and you will have a recipe for success