Make a presentation in 5 steps (4): Structure

Your presentation structure will help keep attention, creating better understanding and recall of your message. This post outlines the fundaments of good presentation structure.

(If you haven’t aleady seen the overview blog-spot for making effective presentations, read this first)

 

Build a structure that supports the message and is easy to follow

It is important to have a good presentation structure in order to:

  • Create fast ROI for the audience
  • Help your audience follow the message
  • Keep audience attention
  • Improve recall of your message

 

There are many different types of presentation structure and I will outline the possibilities in a future blog-spot. Today, I will show you the most classical structure, which I believe is relevant for most business presentations: The diamond structure.

 

The diamond structure is based on the “Pyramid Principle” from Barbara Minto – you can get more information here or buy the book on Amazon. For a visual representation of the diamond structure looks like, follow this link.

I have seen lots of different basic structures in presentations and the most recurring problem is this:

  • People give details before they make their point

Minto explains that this can leave the audience confused as they listen and search for the links between details, trying to understand “What is the point?” This will encourage them to switch off (and sleep) and they will be less likely to remember what you told them.

 

Here is how you should structure things:

  • Have a clear introduction that gives your message immediately and points to the structure that will follow (if you are not convinced about this, read Minto’s book or come to my training )
  • Develop the points of your message in a logical order in the body of your presentation
  • At transition points, refer back to your main message using the “Dora-the Explorer” and “Learn-to-drive” techniques described in training (to be published on a future blog-spot)
  • If you have a formal question time, put it before your closing section
  • To close, summarise what you said and finish by repeating your main message

..simple as that!

 

For the messages outlined on the blog-spot on creating a strong message, you can see the structure by following these links *:

* note: look carefully at how I applied the “message before details” principle at each level of the structure. If you are using PPT, this same principle should be applied to each slide, meaning that the titles of your slides will give the key message for that slide, before you give the details.

 

To help you create your own diamond structure, answer these 5 questions (write down your answers!)

  1. What are the key elements that must be addressed in order to present my message? (If you did a good job of creating your message, these will be clearly noted in the message itself)
  2. What is the natural order of things ?
  3. What must I tell first in order that what follows is best understood?
  4. How will I link 1 part of my presentation to another?
  5. Looking at any random part of my presentation, how does this follow on from what came before and lead to what is next?

Now its time to build the minimum effective dose of content

 

If you have questions, contact me: mail@dansteer.com

If you have comments, add them!

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…

 

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About Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

Posted on March 9, 2011, in Communication, Presentation Skills, Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

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