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How to Write a Synopsis for a Presentation


Everyone who has ever had to deliver a presentation before industry peers, co-workers or customers has faced the daunting task of creating a synopsis of the presentation they plan to give. When a lecture is several hours long, it may often seem impossible to condense the content into a single page or paragraph.

Start by reviewing the parameters for your synopsis. For technical conferences, you may be required to provide a full page synopsis (500 words); for other venues, your synopsis may be just a paragraph (100 to 200 words). If you don't know how long your synopsis should be, contact the program coordinator or your supervisor to ask. You can't write the synopsis without knowing this information.

Move through your presentation notes and highlight the three to five most important ideas you want to address. In a technical presentation, this may be key things people need to know in order to achieve a desired outcome. In a business communication, these may be the key ways people need to change their way of working.

Move through your presentation and highlight the benefits associated with knowing the information you've presented. In a medical presentation, for example, you might measure the benefit in lives saved or hospital stays reduced. In a marketing presentation, you might measure the benefit in revenue increases and costs eliminated.

Copy these key ideas and key benefits onto a new page or into a new computer document. Arrange them so the ideas addressed appear at the top of the page and the benefits appear at the bottom. Condense each sentence so it is short and easy to understand.

Write the synopsis, as a paragraph or a page, based on the outline you just created. Once you've documented what people will learn and how it will benefit them, your synopsis is complete.

Tip
  • Remember that most of the people who ask you for a synopsis will be using it to sell your presentation to others. It is nothing more or less than a low-key sales pitch for your lecture.
Warning
  • Avoid jargon. The more technical words you use in a synopsis, the more likely you are to lose readers and thus attendees.
Items you will need
Lecture notes
Marker to highlight text
About the Author

Nancy Fulton is a professional writer with more than 20 years experience writing articles, books, business plans, marketing materials, website content and training products for schools and fortune 500 firms. She has also taught for UCLA and produced multiple films. As a serial entreprenuer she has worked in many industries and with a variety of government agencies.