Research should be the foundation of any business presentation. But what is the best way to go about researching -- especially when you're short on time?

Contrary to popular practice, you don't have to do all the research before you plan your presentation. In fact, if you've been using this method, it could be contributing to why you haven't seen your family and don't remember what a weekend at home is like.

Many professionals make this common error: doing ALL the research before they begin to plan their presentation. It's a faulty process that could be costing you your personal life and ruining your marriage.

Instead of getting lost in endless hours hunting up data, switch the order of your preparation. This may sound odd at first, but give it a try before you write it off as foolish.

Tip 1: Plan Your Story First

What is the story you want to share with your audience? If you have a clear and compelling message, you will be able to insert the research data into your story.

Focus on how you will announce your story, plan the flow, and summarize for impact. The fastest way to do this is working offline with a Presentation Storyboard.

Researching and planning your story without a storyboard is a lot like putting the cart before the horse. You can have the best cart -- but you won't go anywhere without a horse to pull it. Use a storyboard and you'll go the distance.

Tip 2: Limit Research Time

Instead of giving yourself unlimited time to scour the Internet or company findings, set a time limit. This encourages smart research habits and focused productivity.

If you have the staff, share this work with multiple researchers. If you don't have a large staff, consider training an intern. This creates a powerful opportunity for someone to learn how to do important research. Plus, it frees up your time.

Different people will find unique information and provide you with the data you need. By delegating, you can have a better and more complete picture of the research findings.

Tip 3: Confirm Data Last

Much of the data for critical information is constantly changing. If you hunt down your final data weeks in advance, chances are you'll have to recheck the data at midnight before your final presentation.

This is clearly redundant. Instead of doing all the work again and again, use a placeholder for the data while you plan your story. Then, confirm the final data close to the time when you are delivering your presentation. You'll have the security of knowing you have the most accurate and up-to-the-moment facts.

By switching the sequence and timing of how you research, you can devote your time to areas of your presentation that will directly influence your effectiveness.

Develop your research habits and presentation skills so you can communicate effectively to your audience. Using proven facts and powerful visual stories, you can reach more customers and grow your business.

Author's Bio: 

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through online presentation skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at: http://www.presentationstoryboarding.com/