How to Structure a Presentation

Choosing the Best Format for Your Audience

How to Structure a Presentation - Choosing the Best Format for Your Audience

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Have you ever sat through a rambling, disorganized presentation? If so, you probably found it hard to follow what the speaker was saying.

When presentations don't flow well, it's easy for audiences to get lost. This is why it's important to think carefully about the structure and organization of your presentation.

In this article, we'll explore some common structures that you can use next time you speak in front of other people. 

The Importance of Structure

Without a defined structure, your audience may not be able to follow your presentation. When this happens, your opportunity is lost, the communication fails, and your reputation takes a hit. For example, if your aim is to persuade people, you'll want to use a different approach from the one you'd use if you wanted to demonstrate how a product works.

Many factors can influence your choice of structure, but the most important consideration is your presentation's purpose or goal. You need to identify what you want to achieve – do you want to inspire, motivate, inform, persuade, or entertain people?

Your audience's needs also affect the structure you choose. For example, those who are new to your topic need more background information than people with more expertise and experience. So, in this case, you'd want to choose an approach that gives you ample time to explain the context of your subject, as well as to reinforce your main points.

Structures to Consider

Below, we outline several structures that you can use to organize your presentation.

1. Open – Body – Conclusion

The Open – Body – Conclusion approach is one of the most practical structures you can use for presentations. (Click here to download a worksheet that helps you use it.)

People often call it the "tell 'em" approach, because you:

  • Tell audience members what you're going to tell them (introduction).
  • Tell them (body).
  • Tell them what you told them (conclusion).

This structure is simple, effective and easy to remember. Its repetitive nature allows you to reinforce your points, which helps others remember them. It is also flexible: you can adjust the introduction and body to persuade, motivate, educate, or entertain them.

One downside, however, is that...

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