It is surprising where the time goes to when you get up and start talking.  In a 30 to 45 minute presentation, you have only time to get across between three and five main to points.

Keep it simple!  If you cannot state your central message in one or two sentences, you probably have not narrowed your topic enough, or clarified your thoughts enough.

  • Decide on three to five key points.
  • Develop supporting evidence for each key point.  Include statistics, stories or examples.
  • Develop a strong introduction and powerful conclusion with a call to action.
  • Use visual aids, which help to communicate your message.
  • Perform the presentation with enthusiasm, variety and passion.

Structure of your Message

How do I set about creating a presentation?  What structure should I use?

Every persuasive business presentation should have a similar structure, based on the problem/solution model.  In business, if you are not trying to solve someone’s problems, I would have to query how you are earning your money.

It all starts with an attention grabbing Opening. There is no point in talking if everyone is not listening and thinking about what you have to say.

When the audience does not know you or your company well, you may then need to establish credibility.  This is best done in a fairly subtle way, e.g. highlighting your track record in the area of the presentation.  The objective of this part is not to boast of previous accomplishments but to build a level of trust with the audience so that they know why they should believe what you are saying.

Now you should outline the problem that you believe exists and that your audience are likely to be suffering from.  People do not buy things unless there is a problem or opportunity of some sort. By highlighting this problem or opportunity at the start of your presentation you are providing a fundamental reason for the presentation. Then, create a vision of success as to how that problem can be overcome or the opportunity exploited. It is imperative that you audience buys into this vision, otherwise there is little incentive for them to listen to how you can achieve it.

Next, outline the detailed areas you are about to cover.  Depending on the subject matter, the details can be organised in a variety of different ways including: topically, chronologically, spatially or alphabetically.  Having a structure, for the order in which the details are presented, will help the audience to understand and keep track of your presentation.

The main body of the presentation consists of the detailed problems / solutions.  It is best to use reasoned logic, facts, figures and anecdotes to back up your arguments.  Cause and effect based arguments, which describe the benefits of success as well as the downsides of failing, can also work well in this main body.

Each topic area can almost be treated as a mini presentation in its own right.  The overall presentation structure being rippled down to each detailed area.  Do not forget to link the different areas together, using a series of verbal signposts and referring back to your structure.

End the details section of the presentation, with a summary of the benefits to be gained.  See F for FAB for a discussion on the difference between Features and Benefits.

Having provided all the detailed information, now is the time to call on your audience to join with you to help to achieve the vision of the future. All business requires two parties, two people, two companies or two sides the buyers and the sellers. It is impossible to do business on your own. So this is the point in the presentation to highlight that by working together you can achieve those benefits.

Now we are approaching the end of the presentation. It is now time to restate that vision of success that your audience bought into near the start, just to remind them where we are heading and provide a link back to your attention grabbing opening statement.

Thank the audience for their attention and take any questions from the audience if appropriate.  Then finally, present your call to action, which is designed to fulfil your objective for this presentation.


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