This is the second post in a series on the mistakes I've made presenting and lessons learned.  Today I wanted to share with you "Start At The Beginning".  I don't know about you, but when I'm going to present I'm usually pretty excited, I can't wait to share what I've learned.  The problem is I would jump right in and start explaining the solution, going into great detail while not realizing that the audience had no idea what I was talking about.  I soon discovered that when you present start first by describing the problem, what is it that you are going solve. This does several things.
  1. First, this gives your audience the 30,000 foot (or 10,000 meter) overview of where you are coming from and where you plan to go.  They now have context.  Remember, you have been living and breathing this topic for a long time, what you think others already know may not be the case.  In addition, for larger groups different people will have different backgrounds, many people in the audience will not have the breadth of knowledge that you already have.
  2. Even more important,  explain to the audience why they should care, what is in it for them in the presentation.  If you can't explain what they will gain or benefit, then you do not have a valuable presentation and they will quickly (and rightfully) tune you out.