If you want your presentations to have impact they need to be easy to listen to, easy to follow and easy to remember. You can achieve these goals through organisation.
A well-organised presentation has the following architectural features:
- A logical structure, with a beginning, a middle and an end, much like a story;
- A clearly stated purpose. Ideally this should be audience-focused. That means it’s not so much about what you want to say as about what your audience will gain by listening to you;
- A route map, with signposts along the way so that the audience can see where they are going (what the presentation will cover), how far they’ve come and how close they are to the end of the journey;
- A set of clear messages, ideas or themes in the body of the presentation, each supported by relevant evidence, statistics and examples. Ideally you don’t want too many of these as the evidence is that we can’t hold more than three or four chunks of information at once in our short-term, or working, memories;
- An overall summary and conclusion – the take-home message;
- A call to action, which relates back to the purpose (see bullet point 2). This is about what you want your audience to do, think or feel as a result of listening to you.
A disorganised presentation, with none or few of these features, is an audience turn-off, lacking the ‘hooks’ that make it appealing, relevant and memorable.
Try to build all your future presentations around this recommended architecture. And check out your existing presentations to see whether they comply. You could be making life unnecessarily difficult for your audiences.
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