A clear and straightforward structure helps the audience to follow what you have to say. When you present the information logically, it gets easier for the viewers to get the message. The research from Stanford supports this idea – the study shows that people are 40% more likely to reliably and accurately retain structured information than the information presented in a more freeform manner.
In this post, we go over pro tips and ideas to organize your information and structure a clear, informative, and crisp presentation.
Pro Tip 1 # Mind map the central idea or argument using a flowchart or whiteboard with all the supporting ideas, points, and evidence.
Pro Tip 2 # Use signpost language to structure your presentation and steer your audience through the presentation. Signposts inform your viewers of what to expect, keeping them engaged at all times.
As I mentioned earlier….
I will come to that in a moment….
Let me elaborate on that….
I’d now like to turn to….
Let’s recap on those last points….
This brings me to my last point, which is….
Pro Tip 3 # Take your audience on a journey. For that, structure your presentation content as a story. Don’t expect your audience to put in the effort to understand your message. They will stop listening if the message is too convoluted.
Example: In his Ted Talk, Richard Turere told a fascinating story about devising a solar-powered solution that he designed to scare the lions safely. His family raised livestock on the edge of a national park in Nairobi, Kenya, where lion attacks were prevalent. Though placing lamps in the field didn’t deter lions from attacking, the lights that would turn on and off sequentially definitely did.
It is hard to imagine a preteenager standing in front of a large audience accustomed to listening to polished speakers; this compelling story was the factor that worked in Richard’s case. He found the right spot to begin and developed a concise and logical arc of events. Even though he was nervous, the confidence was there, which got him a sustained standing ovation.
So, what does a story look like?
Conventional stories are structured in three parts: beginning, middle, and end.
Beginning: Pique curiosity
An introduction is the most critical part of any presentation structure. It has to capture the audience’s interest and build rapport. There are a few ways to start a presentation.
➤ The soft introduction
Tell the audience how you came up with the idea, a story about the creation process, and the final development and execution. With this intro, you talk to the audience at their level and eventually move to the core of the presentation.
Follow the three-step approach to ace this introduction type.
- Describe the current situation.
- Describe the challenge.
- Discuss how to respond to the challenge.
➤ Introduction with an “element of surprise”
Bring the element of surprise and freshness into your presentation to make it powerful and memorable. The human brain is wired to remember the unusual and shocking; start your speech with a statement that surprises or shocks your audience. Results from studies or bold statements are excellent ways to do this.
With this introduction type, describe the present situation and what has or could happen. After that, outline the possible consequences and how they should be handled.
Note: Ensure the statements or facts are true and relevant to the audience. You will come off as less credible if they aren’t.
Middle: The heart of the matter
The body of the story should possess all the information and meet the promises of purpose made by the speaker in the introduction.
In the middle, you’re supposed to offer a body of evidence. This is where you hit your audience with quotes, facts, and evidence to back up your main points. There are many ways to organize the main points, such as by theme, priority, chronologically, etc.
- Address the main points one by one with examples and supporting evidence.
- Before moving on to your next point, provide a mini-summary to earn some brownie points.
- There should be a clear link between the ideas; use the signposts to make it clear to the audience when you move on to the next point.
- Don’t rush, and allow people to take relevant notes. Sticking to the topics you have prepared beforehand is essential rather than deviating too far from the topic.
Some structures you could use:
- Problem ➜ Solution
- Point 1 Point 2 Point 3
- Past Present Future
- Aims Methods Results
- Issue Action/s Impact
- Argument 1 2 3
- Hypothesis Findings Discussion
End: Crossing the finish line
Don’t underestimate the importance of a conclusion. Never make the mistake many people make and waste their conclusions with a weak “Thank you” and take an exit.
You will already have your audience emotionally hooked by the time you reach your final slides; at this stage, you need to appeal to the logical part of their brains. You can bring your presentation to a close with a summation of how much better they can live if they adopt your ideas or follow your advice.
Take this opportunity to reiterate your key points. Use the conclusion to summarize your insights effectively and finally discuss what needs to be done. In short, sum up with key takeaways.
Organizing Your Next Presentation
Organizing a presentation can be daunting, but implementing the steps mentioned above ensures that you can effectively present your message, engage your audience, and secure the desired results. Moreover, high-quality and pre-designed PowerPoint graphics or Google Slides themes will help you save time and ace your speech.
There are many more methods for structuring your presentations; it doesn’t matter which one you choose. The key to successfully delivering a winning presentation is to organize your thoughts before you begin. If you know your destination, you can relax and enjoy the ride!