Organizing & Developing an Effective Presentation

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  • 0:03 Organize & Develop a…
  • 1:00 A.C.E.
  • 1:36 Audience
  • 2:47 Context
  • 4:19 Environment
  • 5:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and a PhD in Higher Education Administration.

Preparing a presentation can seem difficult and overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be. In this lesson, we'll introduce the 'A.C.E.' acronym and explain how using it can set you up for a successful experience.

Organize & Develop a Presentation

At some point in their careers, most people will be called upon to give a presentation. The audience can vary from a couple colleagues at a staff meeting to an annual meeting of thousands of shareholders. Either way, the fundamentals of preparation are the same, as are the elements that will define the success of your presentation.

Public speaking is often cited as one of people's most common fears. Nerves can be expected, but if you prepare and anticipate the presentation, there's no reason to worry. When you are asked to present, and you've had time to prepare, you become the expert. Sometimes it might feel like you are just faking being the expert, but that's okay too. If you fake it well enough, your audience won't know. It can seem overwhelming to gather the information, organize it in a logical manner, and present it in a way that the audience will understand. But just remember to 'ACE' your preparation and you'll be ready to rock your presentation.


A.C.E. stands for the three most important parts of an effective presentation. The 'A' stands for audience, the 'C' stands for context, and the 'E' stands for environment. Each of these is equally as important as the other.

If you don't know your audience, you can't prepare good content. If you don't know your content well, you won't be able to present it to your audience in a way they can understand, and if you don't consider the environment, you might have a receptive audience and great content, but if no one can hear you or see your materials, it's all wasted. Let's look at each element of an effective presentation in more detail.


First, is audience. The more you can learn about your audience before you prepare the presentation, the better. If you were preparing a presentation about how the Internet works, wouldn't it be helpful to know if your audience was a class of sixth graders or computer programmers? Your presentation would sure be different. If you have no information, you need to prepare content that's appropriate for the average person who might be in the audience.

As you organize your presentation, remember that your audience needs to be prepared for the main ideas you want them to hear. Whether your presentation is 3 minutes or 30 minutes, you want to spend an appropriate amount of time providing important background information and framing your topic so your audience wants to hear more. Whatever the objective of your presentation might be, it's for the audience - to entertain, teach, or make them think - so consider their perspective while preparing.

After each main point of your presentation, ask yourself if the information you've prepared is both of the appropriate complexity and clarity for your audience. Don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion. The second perspective can help identify words, acronyms, or concepts that might be too complex for your audience.


Next, let's talk about context. Context should remind you to think of two things when preparing your presentation. First, think of the context in which you relate to the audience. Are you their boss, their colleague, or are you interviewing for a job (yes, that counts as a presentation!)?

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