Much like a good piece of writing, a strong presentation needs to be organized logically so that it flows naturally and your audience can follow you easily as you as move from one idea or concept to another.
Your goal is to keep your listeners engaged while you make smooth transitions between the key points in your presentation. But be careful: It’s easy to get distracted, particularly if yours is an interactive presentation and you are fielding questions from the group as you go.
Start at the beginning
Regardless of the topic, your mission is to deliver a presentation people will take an interest in and remember, and delivering a well organized presentation will achieve both. If your ideas are poorly arranged, it’s difficult for people to fully grasp what it is you’re trying to say. And if they’re struggling to keep up with the message, it won’t be long before they give up and just tune you out.
So how do you ensure your presentation has a solid and carefully planned structure? Take it from the beginning, think ahead to your conclusion, and plan a logical roadmap to get from Point A to Point B. Here are a few presentation tips:
Your Five-Step Plan
Deliver a stellar presentation by plotting a plan for success. Five steps will get you there:
Step 1: Nail the Introduction—Perhaps the single most important piece of your presentation puzzle is how you start. Be enthusiastic, be genuine, and open with something that’s going to grab your audience’s attention. Do you have a great story or anecdote that will set the tone for your presentation? Put it out there, front and center, so your audience can see you know what you’re talking about and they need to listen.
Step 2: Deliver the Itinerary—Don’t leave the people in your audience guessing what your talk is going to be about. Give them a brief overview of your presentation up front and make it relatable to them. Why should they care about the topics you’re covering? How is the information you’re bringing going to benefit them? Be specific, because if they can’t apply what you’re saying directly to their situation, your message is lost.
Step 3: Follow the Path—As you plan the course for your presentation, group similar ideas together. This can be very challenging, because the theme that weaves throughout your entire presentation can make all of your ideas seem relative—and of course they are. But upon closer examination, each segment of your presentation will have a theme of its own. Identify these individual themes and pull together all of the ideas that relate to each. Then arrange the segments so that each one leads naturally to the next. Your audience will appreciate you staying on topic before moving to the next point in your presentation—and they’ll be better able to process the remember what you’re saying because of it.
Step 4: Prep the Visual Aids—Your talking points aren’t the only things that need to be carefully planned; your visual aids have to be ready when you need them. Powerpoint slides, videos, posters, or whatever other visual aid you use can be very powerful, and they are great for engaging your audience—but they lose all effect if you’ve neglected to match them with your speaking points or, worse, if you’re fumbling with them.
Step 5: Seal the Deal—Your conclusion has to be as strong as your introduction. Leaving your audience with something to think about is the purpose of your finale, so use the tail end of your presentation to quickly summarize the points you’ve made and why they are meaningful. Your audience should come to the end of your presentation feeling as though they’ve learned something valuable that they can apply to their situation. Hopefully, you’ve motivated them to think differently or inspired them to find out more.
Build From the Foundation Up
The best presentations are the ones with a logical floorplan built on a solid foundation. Your ideas make sense if they are arranged in a logical sequence. Following five simple steps is all it takes to ensure your message doesn’t get lost and your audience remains invested in what you’re saying.
Before you start building your next presentation, consider what it is you’re trying to tell your audience and what you want them to take away. Then assemble the pieces of your presentation logically to achieve these goals.