How to structure a winning presentation
There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to think about your presentation structure from the outset. Firstly, it’ll save you hours of wasted effort while building your content. Secondly, you’ll have more time to polish your delivery, making you even more confident and comfortable on event day. Thirdly, you’ll have peace of mind, because you’ll know that you’ve structured your narrative in a way that people can understand, relate to and act upon.
Sounds like a dream? Well, becoming a presentation guru might not be as difficult as you think. Simply give one of these proven frameworks a whirl, and you’ll turn even the most incoherent content into a winning presentation!
1. Solve a problem
The problem-solving structure is the most popular format because it’s so effective. You should spend the first 25% of your presentation sharing a high-level overview of the problem, using compelling intellectual and emotional descriptions. Next, spend 50% of your time outlining the solution. For the final 25%, describe how this solution benefits your audience (think, ‘what’s in it for me?’). Before closing, share a simple call-to-action that relates to the problem discussed.
2. Tell a story
Stories galvanise organisations around goals, encourage people to embrace change and help individuals to build trust. Many impactful presentations use the basic storytelling structure: a beginning, a middle and an end. The trick is to keep your storytelling lean by only including relevant details. Spend the first 25% of your presentation on the ‘beginning’, where you introduce a character who faces conflict. Then, spend 50% on the ‘middle’, where you explain how the character tries, but fails, to overcome the conflict. Finally, spend 25% on the ending, where you finally reveal how the character resolves the matter and wins.
3. Debate a complex issue
This is a great approach if you’re trying to persuade a sceptical or oppositional audience. Aim to spend the first 5% of your presentation summarising the problem. Then, spend 10% exploring it in more detail. Next, spend 50% of your time reviewing your opponents’ solutions. Acknowledge each solution’s advantages in way that gives it genuine credit. Then, provide at least two reasons why it’s unsuitable. Once you’ve covered all of the alternatives, spend the last 35% of your presentation sharing your own solution. This is the best and last option, once the others have been dismissed.
4. Share a demonstration
Like a form of real-time performance art, demonstrations showcase how your product works. Plan to spend the first 30% of your presentation outlining the ‘need’ or problem that needs to be solved. Next, spend 60% of your time explaining how your product specifically overcomes these problems, and, where possible, provide an interactive opportunity. Finally, spend 10% of your presentation reminding the audience when and where they can get their hands on your amazing product!
Remember, the next time you’re looking to impress your clients, co-workers or boss, consider which of these structures could help you to craft a memorable presentation. Just don’t be surprised if your colleagues beg you to share your secret with them!
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