20 Dec 2010
How should you structure your presentation? In the newspaper business, they teach you to put the least important stuff at the end, so when your story gets cut for length the reader won’t miss much. But when you’re planning a presentation, it helps to start with the end.
There are two ways to do it.
The first is to ask yourself what results you want from the presentation. Is it sales? Understanding? Recruits? To convince them to look at things your way? Whatever you want them to do, that’s where you need to start.
Without a clear outcome in mind, there’s no way your presentation will come out clear.
The second is to state your conclusion at the beginning of your presentation. First impressions last longest. If you don’t say the one thing you need to say right up front, it may never get heard.
Starting with your conclusion also tells the audience you won’t waste their time with preliminaries.
That means your presentation structure should look something like this:
- Conclusion — your main point, in the fewest possible words.
- Background — research, definitions, history and other information to serve as groundwork for the story you’re telling
- Body — justifications, arguments, product and developments, and anything that shows how you’re dealing with real problems
- Conclusion — repeat the main point