From health care facilities and pharmaceutical companies to law firms and finance agencies, virtually every business relies on high-quality presentations to communicate with team members and sell their products to investors, other companies, and potential consumers. The ability to craft a strong, compelling presentation is a vital skill for professionals involved in all industries, but most people find the prospect of presenting to an audience stressful and intimidating. Thankfully, carefully planning and structuring your presentation can help you to deliver a persuasive message, demonstrate your experience and authority on the subject, and accomplish your goals.
Why Is Organization of a Presentation Important?
You have undoubtedly experienced several presentations throughout your business career with varying degrees of success. Some presentations may have educated or inspired you, while others were so dull you may have forgotten about them as soon as you left the room. The difference between the two presentations was likely not solely due to the knowledge or enthusiasm of the speaker, but because the former understood the importance of organizing the presentation to engage the audience. Powerful speakers know how to structure their message in a simple, straightforward, and logical manner to capture the audience’s attention, keep them interested, and ensure they can gain valuable information from the presentation.
In fact, research from Stanford University has demonstrated that an audience is able to retain information 40% more accurately when the speaker presents their message in a meaningful structure than when they do so in an unstructured format. Establishing a solid structure for your presentation helps your audience know what to expect at each stage and guides them along the process so they can absorb what you are sharing with them. This not only helps the audience follow along, but it is also vital for you as the speaker. By structuring your presentation, you can ensure you remember your talking points, keeping you on track and letting you avoid awkward pauses or confusing transitions.
How to Prepare for a Presentation
Before you can begin writing and organizing your content, you must first identify your target audience and determine the goal you hope to accomplish with your presentation. Conduct thorough research regarding your audience to determine how familiar they are with your topic. If they have limited understanding or awareness of the concepts, you will be covering, you must provide the proper background information to catch them up. If they are well-versed in your concepts, you should skip this information to avoid boring them. Instead, focus on more in-depth and detailed aspects of the topic that they can follow and appreciate.
Next, consider your purpose, or what you are hoping to achieve by presenting your message. You may want to educate them on a certain topic, inform them of your company’s offerings, help them solve a problem, or explain how your products can meet their needs. The goal is not to cover everything, but to consider how your content relates to your audience and use it to capture their interest and encourage further discussion. Pay attention to the setting of the presentation, the time constraints you face, and whether you can use presentation software, product demonstrations, or other visual aids to support your message.
How to Organize a Presentation
Follow the steps below to learn how to organize a presentation:
1. Develop an outline for your key points.
Think about three or four key points you want to share with the audience and organize them into a concise outline. Any points that are too lengthy or too complicated should be simplified, condensed, reworded for clarity, or even eliminated altogether if you determine that they do not effectively help accomplish your goal. Provide information that supports your topic, including relevant facts, research data, survey results, or statistics. Think about the visual elements you can use to enhance your message, such as graphs, charts, diagrams, illustrations, photos, and infographics.
2. Decide on the right structure for your presentation.
There are several ways to structure your presentation based on your goals, including:
- Chronological – recounting an event from the beginning to end or explaining the steps of a process
- Spatial – describing the physical composition or structure of an item based on space, such as top to bottom, or left to right
- Categorical – dividing one broad topic into smaller sub-categories and discussing how each of them fits into the main topic
- Analytical – breaking a concept down into logical components and analyzing how they relate to one another to produce the intended effect
- Compare and Contrast – highlighting similarities and differences between two items, events, or situations
- Cause and Effect – demonstrating the cause-and-effect relationship between two variables in which one has a specific impact on the other
- Problem and Solution – discussing an important problem relevant to your audience and offering a reasonable solution to solve this problem
3. Determine a clear beginning, middle, and end of your presentation.
Your presentation should have three primary sections:
Begin by citing an eye-opening statistic, asking an open-ended question, sharing an appropriate quote, telling a story, or connecting your topic to the audience to build common ground. Establish your credibility and authority on the subject matter by discussing any personal experience you have in this area or research you have conducted on the topic. This allows you to gain the confidence of the audience and gives weight to the rest of your presentation. Your audience should understand the value of your topic, how it applies to them, and what information or encouragement you will be providing to help them take action to meet a need, solve a problem, or otherwise improve their lives. End with a preview of your presentation structure so they can anticipate the flow of your message.
The body of your presentation is where you will present your key points and offer information to support these points, such as examples, customer stories, and other evidence that your claims are valid. Divide this section into distinct topics organized in a logical way the audience can understand. Address each point one by one, support it with compelling evidence, then briefly summarize how it relates to the main idea before shifting to the next point. Utilize transitions to show connections between your points and signal to the audience that you will be moving to another point. Transitions include words and phrases like “likewise,” “similarly,” and “in the same way” so your speech flows well and viewers can easily follow your message.
Do not simply end your presentation after making your last point. Instead, it is crucial to clarify the purpose of your presentation and ensure your message resonates with the audience. Develop a clear conclusion that summarizes your message, reinforces your key points, mentions the implications and consequences of these points, and provides a persuasive call to action that motivates them to learn more about your topic. Do not rush or add new content. If your introduction began with an attention-grabbing piece of information, revisit it in the conclusion to bookend your presentation. Finally, thank viewers for their time, explain how they can contact you for further information, and invite them to ask questions.
Create Better Business Presentations Today
Creating a presentation can be a daunting prospect but implementing the steps above to organize your presentation ensures you can effectively express your message, engage your audience, and secure optimal results. If you are interested in learning more about how to organize a presentation that impresses potential investors and clients, contact Shapiro Negotiations today. Our negotiation training program is based on science, backed by experience, and boasts a track record of proven results that have helped business professionals in all industries negotiate their way to better deals. We can help your team prepare successful pitches, craft compelling presentations, and achieve the best outcome for your business.