Teach students how to prepare and deliver high stakes presentations in a professional setting



Most students, as they prepare to enter the professional world, will be required to make a high-stakes presentation to their future employers, internship organizations, or special committees that offer opportunities for awards or scholarships. Some students may be invited to present their ideas to entrepreneurial companies looking for new ideas.

The problem, however, is that students are often not equipped to handle these tasks, as traditional public speaking courses do not provide enough guidance for high-stakes specialist presentations. Instead, they offer basic information advice or persuasive speeches for general contexts and situations. While this speech instruction can be helpful, faculty should step in and offer more detailed instructions for high-stakes presentations that students will encounter in the workplace.

For high stakes presentations, I recommend the LASER Blueprint Methodology as a professional guide to help students master these presentations in real world contexts. The methodology is taken from my academic text, How to leverage your high-stakes presentation in the age of speed (Petrausch 2020). This article presents a model for an instructor to follow when helping students navigate high-stakes presentations in a professional setting.

the LASER The Blueprint methodology provides a framework for high stakes presentations that will help speed up student presentations with new tools and approaches that make sense for the digital age. It can be used for person-to-person, online or Zoom presentations.

Let’s review the methodology and the ways it provides guidance to students.


Every high-stakes presentation needs leverage as a driving force that will help crucial influencers who can push forward or prevent important propositions from moving forward. To gain leverage, the student needs a solid purpose, plan of action, and contextual research to advance the persuasion process.

Another way to promote leverage in a presentation is to communicate the presenter’s commitment to the project to the audience. It can’t be boring or bland. Presenters should show in lively, robust language that they mean what they say. Ethos offers credibility and authenticity to a high stakes presenter and is a way to set the tone to win hearts and minds. Another technique for leveraging a lecture is to capture key ideas and visuals in a storyboard, much like a screenwriter and filmmaker shape their ideas before putting them on film or digitally. The storyboard will also provide the strong visual impact that many audiences are looking for in the age of speed.


Adapting to the audience and better understanding their needs are two of the best ways for students to gain support for their high-stakes presentation. They must find out what interests their audience and, most importantly, what is the hidden agenda: the elephant in the room. What are their fears and recent failures that could be addressed in the presentation? What issues arouse strong emotions that could improve or derail the speech?

A key part of adapting to the audience is becoming their advocate (one who serves their interests and needs). Ideally, the public should have confidence that the students will act on their behalf. Additionally, students must provide the audience with powerful reasons or solutions to strengthen their new connection. By empathizing with the audience and learning to walk in their place, students can, more than anything else, deliver a powerful message and quickly adapt to the needs of the audience. High-stake audiences will most likely be interested in current events that affect them. As such, students should be aware of the events most relevant to the target audience. Finally, understanding the disposition of the group, whether they are analytical thinkers, people who feel relationships, or leaders and managers, can help students shape and tailor the appropriate strategy to an audience.


Sharing of ideas and buy-in is essential for high-stakes presentations. Students need to build strong connections with their audience and bring them closer to the consensus and engagement that will allow acceptance of big ideas or proposals. Because people learn information in different ways, information sharing should catch the eyes of visual learners, resonate with the ears of an auditory audience, and provide hands-on activities for those with a kinesthetic mindset. Naturally, a high-stakes presentation that connects all three learning styles will be more successful with influential decision-makers. To improve idea sharing with an audience, students should develop a relationship strategy to build trust, a tactical strategy to highlight evidence that their proposals or ideas will work, and a communication strategy that will keep their presentations highly visible. and interactive.


One of the most powerful ways to influence audiences with a high stakes presentation is to educate them with powerful stories. Stories affect people in four ways. The first way is physical. Audiences tend to sit down and listen when a story relates to its results. The second way is mental in that our brain responds to the speaker’s words to match the flow of information. The third way is emotional. Behavioral scientists note that the emotional brain is where trust, loyalty and hope are activated and where unconscious emotional decisions are formed. The fourth path is through the human mind. Stories affect us as individuals if they touch our hearts and even reach our souls. It’s important to remember that our society has always been history-ready, from our ancestors to the new digital generation. Business leaders are beginning to realize that storytelling increases the value of a high-stakes presentation, especially in large business contexts.


High stakes presenters make a meaningful impression on audiences when they reveal an innovative approach or powerful solution that the audience didn’t expect. It changes the game. To get excited about the ideas of the presentation, an organization needs the novelty offered by the presenter. The best way to come up with new solutions, approaches and ideas is to tap into the creative mindset using brainstorming tools, drawing on the diversity of talent in the organization. , by role-playing and asking the right questions at the right time and at the right time. place and context.

To help students navigate high-stakes presentations, the faculty teacher can recommend eight steps to prepare:

Step 1. Discover the needs to be addressed, the challenges to be overcome or the problems to be solved.

2nd step. Brainstorm ten to fifteen ideas that can be included in the presentation.

Step 3. Define public needs and assess public decision makers.

Step 4. Select four or five thematic compartments for the high stakes presentation.

Step 5. Pick out stories, analogies, compelling arguments, new approaches, and membership strategies.

Step 6. Choose the technology, such as PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote, or Google Slides, that best suits your high-stakes presentation.

Step 7. Complete a first draft with at least three main points, four to five themes, and opening and closing arguments.

Step 8. Prepare for questions and answers from audience participants.

In short, using the LASER Blueprint Methodology In the classroom, faculty can help students succeed in professional contexts that require high-stakes presentations.

Dr. Robert J. Petrausch is Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Strategic Communications and Head of the Public Relations Concentration at Iona College, New Rochelle, New York. He holds a doctorate in education from the Department of Organization and Leadership at Columbia University in New York City. He has graduate degrees from Boston University (communications); Fordham University (political science / public affairs) and New School for Social Research (liberal studies).

He is active in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and has served as president of the Westchester-Fairfield chapter of PRSA. He is a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) and is Vice-President of the United Nations Association (UNA) of CT. He also served on the National Council of the UNA representing New England. He has participated in the UNA leadership summits in New York and Washington. DC.


Petrausch, Robert, J. 2020. Leverage your high-stakes presentation in the age of speed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt Publishing.

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