Building a good presentation might seem like a daunting task. But in reality, it is not so. With the right mix of text, visual content, and a compelling message, you will have a powerful presentation (for any purpose) in your hands.
Why is it Important to Aptly Structure Your Presentation?
Think of it as having a piece of a puzzle.
What would be more convenient? Separating all the pieces and then arranging as needed or looking in the mix each time you need it? It would be the former for most of us.
The same applies to presentations.
Research supports that people retain structured information up to 40% more than information that’s given in a freeform way.
Structuring your presentation will help you create a rough draft with streamlined thoughts. Also, you will be able to relay your message more appropriately, and your audience will be able to take away key points as intended.
How to Structure Your Presentation to Make it Compelling?
1. Set Up a Course for Proper Greetings and Introduce Yourself Well
Introducing yourself to the audience and explaining your expertise will help build an immediate connection with them. It will help your audience understand why they should listen to you on the topic. It doesn’t have to be too detailed – introduce yourself and tell your relevant experience.
- You can go for greetings like good morning/afternoon – distinguished guests/ladies and gentlemen, etc.
- Express acknowledgments if you have any; for example, I would like to thank/welcome you all.
- You can try to get to know your audience and incorporate methods, like icebreaker polls, to catch your audience’s attention.
2. Introduction of Your Presentation
This section will help you convey the purpose of your presentation. It should orient your audience to the central point (thesis) of your presentation. Consider your introduction as a funnel, i.e., the content coming out of that funnel. You can filter down your topics based on the following format –
- Mention/state your general topic.
- Define your area of interest or your topic area.
- Introduce the challenges and difficulties you will be exploring.
- Zero in on the purpose of your presentation, and state how you will treat the topic; for example, you will analyze, explain, argue, compare, evaluate, etc.
- Share what outcome you hope to come out of this presentation, like “I am hoping this presentation will help you evaluate or compare.”
- Share a preview of the presentation, i.e., tell them what you will show.
Also, in this section, tell them the duration of your talk, when you will answer questions, if you will be providing handouts, etc. Remember, the main aim of your introduction is to connect with your audience and catch their attention.
3. The Body of Your Presentation
The main body of your presentation will detail the points introduced in the introduction. Segment all the important points of your presentation clearly and walk through them one by one. Make sure your points are logically connected and lead seamlessly to the next segment. There are numerous ways in which you can align your presentation, like a particular theme, in a chronology, or on a priority basis.
- Make sure you provide supporting evidence/examples with the main points.
- You can also provide a summary before moving on to the next segment.
- All the segments of your presentation should be linked to each other and be in chronological order.
- Give people time to take relevant notes if needed.
While deciding on the main topics that you wish to cover in your presentation, ask yourself questions like – “what am I trying to tell people through this? What will they understand from this?”
Refining your questions and answers this way will help you draft a clear message for your presentation.
4. Concluding Your Presentation
Sometimes, people don’t pay as much attention to the conclusion as to other parts and leave it a little weak. It might be a mistake, as the conclusion lets you reinforce your message, and you can use the chance to reiterate the crucial parts, helping your goals.
Whatever the goal (informative, sales pitch, motivational) of your presentation is, make sure you summarize the key points and reinforce your message.
- Let people know that you are at the end of the presentation.
- State the topic/purpose of your talk again.
- Summarize the critical points with their implications.
- End with a powerful CTA or some form of a thought-provoking statement.
5. Thank Your Audience
Thank your audience for their time, and let them know you are open to questions/discussions if they have any.
Typically, the introduction and conclusion should take about 30% (15% each) of your presentation’s content and the body about 70%.
A Few of the Presentation Structures You Can Use
- You can structure your presentation around the Past, Present, and Future, i.e., when you want to present some history or review any process.
- You can structure it around Comparisons and Contrasts to show the relativity of something.
- Another way is structuring your presentation is Problem-Solution-Benefit, i.e., first lay out the problem, tell the solutions, and detail the benefits of your solution. It is great for motivating people.
- Another way is Cause and Effect, i.e., you detail the process and help people understand the logic.
- You can also start with a What-How-CTA model. Explain the experience, how you add up to the experience and end with an effective CTA.
- You could also switch between a Fact and Story model, i.e., telling what is (fact) and what could be (part of your story).
Structuring your presentation will help you stay on course. Even if you blank out in the middle of the talk and forget the specifics, you can always go back to the structure/general framework and pick up from there.
In a Nutshell
A great talk is like taking people on a journey. If you are successful, it will leave people with a different perspective regarding the topic. Humans are wired to remember and relate to stories, and it works great to boost engagement. You can start drafting your presentation by learning what your audience already knows about the subject. It will help you build on your subject matter. Also, don’t include a lot of technical jargon, and don’t try to cover too much ground. It will deter you from covering relevant points in detail.
Being careful about these little things will help you refine your talk with a relevant and powerful message that engages your audience well.