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5 ways to structure a presentation for maximum effect

When creating an outline structure for a presentation we are about to give — whether that presentation is in writing, via personal delivery, or via multimedia — there are five basic ways to organise that structure for maximum effect:

 

Let's consider each in turn.

 

1. Structuring your presentation by Time

Let's suppose that your presentation is on the growth of internet presence in businesses.

Your thesis could be:
Businesses are rapidly increasing their presence on the internet because of market pressures.

Your organising structure could therefore be:

In January 1998 only X% of businesses had an internet presence of some sort — a website or email address — (because)
          reason
          reason
          reason

By January 2000 this had grown to Y% (because)
          reason
          reason
          reason

By January 2003 this had grown to Z% (because)
          reason
          reason
          reason

And so on, leading to your conclusion(s).

 

2. Structuring your presentation by Space

Thesis:
We should structure our new global call centre in Adelaide, Australia

Why:
Adelaide is the best location (because)
1. Access to highly trained and motivated staff
2. English is their first language
3. Cheaper cost of living compared to other mainland cities

A. It's a better choice than Brisbane, Australia (because)
          reason
          reason
          reason

B. It's a better choice than India (because)
          reason
          reason
          reason

C. It's a better choice than Ireland (because)
          reason
          reason
          reason

...and so on.

 

3. Structuring your presentation by Problem & Solution

Thesis:
This change proposal should be adopted (because)

1. There is a need for the proposed change (because)

A. There is harm in what we are currently doing
          example
          example
          example

B. The harm is significant (because)
          example
          example
          example

C. The harm is directly relevant to the audience (because)
          example
          example
          example

2. This proposal is the best alternative (because)

A. The proposal is reasonable (because)
          example of how it will solve the problem

B. The proposal is practical (because)
          example of cost:benefit analysis

C. The proposal is desirable (because)
          example of how it solves the problems without creating new ones

3. Summary — a final upbeat statement that leaves your audience thinking positively about your proposal.

 

4. Structuring your presentation by Cause & Effect

Thesis:
Internal employee communication vehicles need to be formally introduced

Cause 1:
Employees have no direct chain of communication with senior management

Effects 1:

1. Employees are gossiping negatively over internal email and in the breakout rooms about possible managment initiatives that not even management have considered yet

2. Call centre schedule adherence times are blowing out; people are taking longer breaks than allotted, disrupting traffic and causing longer queues

3. Anecdotal evidence from floor-walking supervisors is that staff are accessing online job boards more and more

4. Engagement scores on recent half-yearly surveys are trending downwards

5. The number of unsolicited resumes sent in to the company has markedly decreased recently

Cause 2:
Managers are so busy managing KPIs and statistics that they've forgotten to manage their people

Effects 2:

1. Effect

2. Effect

3. Effect ...

Solution:
Implement a formal top-down and bottom-up communication process and channel to help reduce the gossiping and increase engagement

Call to Action: Implement management blogs

 

5. Structuring your presentation by motivation

Based on Monroe's 1935 work, the Motivation Model is a fantastic way of structuring your ideas. It works because it follows a predictable pattern of thinking.

The steps are:

1. Attention — get their attention; make them want to pay attention

2. Need — describe a problem so that the receiver responds with "something needs to be done" or "I need this information"

3. Satisfaction — present a solution to the problem so that the receiver thinks "this is what should be done" or "this information is useful and helps me understand"

4. Visualisation — show the consequences of doing or not doing what is asked for in the 'satisfaction' stage. Your goal is to have the receiver think "if I do this I will be in a better position" or "if I don't do this I will be in a worse position"

5. Action — a call to action; you want the receiver to say "I will do as you suggest" or "I believe you" or "I now feel strongly about this".

 

Conclusion

As communicators we have access to five fantastic outlining tools to help us structure our presentations for better reception. They are:

 

Pick your tool and outline your way to a better communication result!

 

 

Reports I have written:

Measuring the impact and ROI of social media
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making social media work for your business
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: the new business communication landscape
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing

How to use social media to engage employees
Contributing author to How to use social media to engage employees - for Melcrum Publishing

Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing

 

 

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