“If I give the audience a firm structure to put my information in,” says Featured Speaker Wendy Kinney, “they leave feeling energized and ready to go and put the information I gave them into action.” That means you need to present the information in a way that they can assimilate it. “And that takes preparation. That cannot be impromptu.”
To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail, as the saying goes. Great presentations require much preparation. A good presentation might follow this basic format:
1. An icebreaker. This can be a story, interesting statement or fact, joke, quote, or an activity to get the group warmed up. It needs to be relevant to the topic and be engaging so that it hooks the audience.
2. An introduction. This introduces you and the objective, purpose or goal of the presentation to the audience.
3. The body. Do not write out and memorize this part word for word. All you want is an outline. Jot down the main points on a set of index cards or a sheet of paper, if you need notes to follow. This not only provides your outline or roadmap for the speech but also a memory trigger for the actual presentation.
4. The conclusion. This summarizes the most important points, so the audience is likely to remember them. And it gives them a call to action (CTA).
To prepare your presentation, ask yourself the following:
- What is the purpose of this presentation?
- Who will be attending?
- Does the audience already know about the subject? If so, how much do they know?
- What do you think will be the audience’s attitude towards you (e.g. hostile, friendly)?
When you know the answers to these questions, you can then develop the best icebreaker, introduction, body, and conclusion that will hook and engage the audience, inspiring them to take action at the end.
Getting the structure right
Your structure is the roadmap that will make every step of your presentation feel comfortable and deliberate. Every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end — and so does every compelling presentation.
Without structure, you will stumble through your speech like a child fumbling in the dark. Or worse, you’ll ramble, thus losing your audience’s attention. A properly structured presentation will flow easily and naturally. You’ll be less likely to experience missteps and embarrassing detours. Your audience will be drawn along with you as you lead them on a captivating journey of insight and discovery.
The Benefits of Structure
Having a logical, thought-through presentation structure will help you:
- Easily navigate your way through your presentation without getting lost, tripping up or repeating yourself
- Ensure that your audience stays with you every step of the way
- Keep your timing on track
- Present with clarity and relevance
- Deal with any distractions or side-tracks elegantly and effortlessly
Key Elements of a Well-Structured Speech
There are five key elements of a well-structured presentation. They are:
- A gripping, no-nonsense opening
- A consistent thread or theme which runs all the way through
- Content divided into short chunks which hold the audience’s attention
- A natural flow which carries the audience throughout the speech
- The inclusion of ‘hooks’ and buy-in moments which keep the audience awake and alert
Having a clear, thought-through structure to your presentation is like having a personalized, detailed roadmap, with your route clearly marked with a bright neon highlighter!