In several of my previous posts I have talked about the importance of having a clear outcome for your presentation or speech. Today I’d like to take a look at the next step in the design process – finding a
logical flow.

Your audience need to see that there is a path between your starting point and your outcome and they need to see this logic early on or they will switch off!   Nobody wants to listen to a ramble or apparently disconnected set of information that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

So what can you do? Well one way is to consider an “off the shelf” template. There are a number of tried and tested story formats from which you can choose the most appropriate one for your message ad audience.  Here are a few of the simplest and most effective ones.

  • The Chronological flow:
    This is a simple, past, present and future structure where you start by talking about the history of the organisation, project or approach then move on to talk about the current situation before finally painting a picture of future developments.
  • The Pro’s and Cons Analysis:
    This approach harks back to the classic exam essay question  “Compare the pros and cons  of various  options and then recommend the most appropriate one.”
  • The Problem/Solution mode:
    In this template you start by identifying an amplifying a problem or issue faced by your audience,  Then you propose a solution and support your recommendation with appropriate evidence.   This model is often used to great effect in TV commercials for cleaning products.   Scene one – “Oh no! you have a sink full of dirty dishes and your wife is due back in five minutes! Scene 2 – “Don’t worry, a quick squirt of  New JIFFO Cleaner and everything will be sparking clean before you know it!” Scene 3 – “Phew I with JIFFO that was so easy”, Husband putting clean and sparking dishes away just as his wife arrives home”
  • The Solution First template:
    In this approach you start by outlining the solution to a real problem, challenge or issue facing your audience and then work backwards to explain how you got to this solution. It’s a bit like a murder mystery where the murderer is revealed early on in the drama and the interest lies in the story of how thy came to be in this position

Choosing a template:
If it is not immediately obvious to you which template to use I suggest you start by getting away from the computer and start by jotting down the main ideas in your presentation onto post it notes.   Stick these up on a suitable wall or whiteboard and step back to see the bigger  picture.  What makes sense?  Move them around and read them as if you were a member of your audience?   What order is simplest?   T and clearest from the listeneres perspective? Next ask yourself “What type of story flow will suit this situation
and help me achieve my desired outcome?”

Crafting a great presentation takes a little more time but the results are always worth it!

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