Creating an outline can help you in several ways, but perhaps the most importantis this: A well-crafted outline is all you need at the lectern to deliver a winning presentation. A truly well organized outline will allow you to sail through your speech without a hitch.
There are several wonderful software tools you can use to create outlines (Scrivenor, Evernote and MindMap spring to mind), but they are not essential. If you can put together an effective outline without digital assistance, do it. But don’t feel bad if you need the help. (Full confession: I’ve used these tools myself.)
The trick to creating an effective outline is to develop one that has just the exact amount of information you need – no more, no less. Put too much verbiage in your outline and you risk writing something you have to read verbatim, right off the page (as we discussed back here, reading a speech verbatim has a lot of drawbacks). Put too little on the page and you’re likely to forget some important point or other that you meant to make.
Be economical, but not stingy. Write in full sentences when you have to, bullet points when you don’t. Remember the acronym PEP: Point Explanation/Example Point.
And, of course, rehearse. This cannot be emphasized enough. If you do not practice out loud, with your outline by your side, you will run into enormous trouble when the time comes to actually deliver your presentation. You will hem and haw, pause awkwardly or get completely lost. There is only one way to avoid these traps: PRACTICE.