Tips on creating a great presentation structure

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Ever wondered what you can do to your presentation to keep the audience wanting more? No matter how many graphs, charts or facts are presented if you don’t have a good structure for your presentation then you might not get the effect you want out of your presentation. For many people preparing presentations can be a very intimidating task and bring on a lot of nerves. If you take time to understand how to best structure your presentation, then you will gain much more confidence in presenting knowing that you are supported by a solid structure. Here are some tips on creating a great presentation structure.

6 Ways to structure your presentation to keep your audience wanting more

You can compare preparing your presentation to building a Lego model. It is easier to separate and sort all the pieces before you begin to build your model instead of searching for each piece individually in a big bucket. The first step would be to brainstorm all your ideas, combine all your ideas in a draft, but most importantly consider the message you want to communicate to your audience.

Story & Fact

Your presentation should have a structure that moves between the story and fact. For the beginning, paint a picture of the audience’s reality in the current world. From here, you want to present a call to adventure – compare and contrast “what is” and “what could be”. Throughout your presentation you want to skillfully shift between the reality (fact) and the fantasy of what could be.

The Explanation

The central purpose of a presentation is to inform and share insights. This can be about a current process, information to help people learn something new or it can be presenting a problem and a possible solution. You can look at the following steps to achieving this:

  • Ask yourself where you are now, where you plan on going and what’s between here and there.
  • Find a roadmap to get you to your destination.
  • Consider what is your first step. Then plan ahead and consider what steps may need to come.
  • As you are finishing the process reflect on all the steps you have done and consider how much you have learnt.
  • In the end you should have created new knowledge and gained new abilities

The Pitch

Your pitch is intended to present your audience with all options, which should include the current reality, potential problems, solutions and weighing up the solutions to decide on the best one that will draw their attention. The idea is to show your audience how your overarching idea can really improve the current situation.

The Drama

Your presentation should be modeled off “The Hero’s Journey”. This is a classic literary structure that takes the audience on a journey from plight to triumph. The journey begins and progresses to the point where everything is at its worst. From here, the “hero” character begins to recover and improve towards triumph. It is in the end of the hero’s journey that the audience draws a lesson from the story.

Towards Resolution

An effective presentation follows three main elements: situation, complication and resolution. This is a three-way story line linked by the words “but” and “therefor”. This can be demonstrated by presenting the current situation and current conditions. Then you present the “but” which shows the complication and the challenges ahead. Use data to back this up as it shines light on the problem and makes the story more interesting. You then go on to present the “therefor”, which is your proposed resolution. These are the products/services that are intended to solve the complication. It is important that this resolution is backed by evidence that is accurate and actionable.

Hook, Meat & Payoff

Where the “Hero’s Journey” is a literary structure, “Hook, Meat and Payoff” is more of a spoken word progression that inspires your audience to want more.

Hook: Engage your audience by using a personal story, rhetorical question or provocative statement. The hook is a way of giving the audience a sense of what is coming and makes them want to listen for more.

Meat: By using lists or timelines you will be giving the audience an idea of where they are and can follow along.

Payoff: this is the call to action that invites the audience to participate.

How to structure your presentation

1. Greet the audience & introduce yourself

Before starting your presentation introduce yourself, tell them who you are and your expertise. This will build an immediate relationship between you and the audience, and help them trust you more as a credible source of information

2. Introduction

In the introduction you need to explain your topic and the purpose of your presentation. It is helpful to think of your introduction as a “funnel-shape” to filter down your topic.
– Introduction of the topic
– Explain your topic area and what it is about
– Go into the problems and issues in this area that you will be explaining
– State your presentations purpose, also explain how the topic will be treated or if you will argue, compare or evaluate.
– Provide a statement of what you are hoping the outcome will be.
– Show the organisation of your presentation, for example tell the audience if you want them to interact or if you would like them to take notes.

3. The main body of your talk

The main body must go in the same order as the points in your introduction. Make sure everything is organised logically for your audience to easily understand and follow. There are many ways to organise your main points of your presentation such as by theme or priority. Main points should be presented one at a time, with supporting evidence and examples. Always provide a small summary before moving onto your next point. Links should be pointed out between ideas, you must be clear when you are moving onto the next point. Allow time for people to take notes.

4. The conclusion of the presentation

The conclusion is the best place to reinforce your message and convert your audience into actual customers – make sure you end it on strong note. Be sure to summarise your main points and their implications, this will clarify the overall purpose and why you are there.

Follow these steps for your conclusion:

  • Signal that you almost done with the presentation
  • Restate the topic or purpose of your presentation
  • Summarise the main points of your topic including implications and conclusions
  • Indicate what is next – this is your call to action

5. Thank the audience & invite questions

Thank the audience for their time and for coming. Depending on your presentation and personal circumstances you might only want people to ask questions after the presentation.

It is very important to have a well-structured presentation so that your audience stays well informed and interested in your presentation. An unstructured presentation can be hard to follow and frustrating to listen to. The main idea is to have a strong main point with supporting evidence and to demonstrate how everything is linked. According to research the audience remembers the first and last things you say, so keep this in mind. Your introduction & conclusion are very important to reinforcing your points. Find out how to make your presentation successful faster, while making them look great here.