Organise the Presentation Material
Clarity of ideas and good organisation should help result in a lively, logical and compelling message, delivered in a confident and professional way
Organising the presentation material may include:
1. Blue Sky Thinking (The Ideas)
Keeping your objectives in mind write down all the points you wish to make, irrespective of order.
For an introduction to Blue Sky Thinking, see our section on Brainstorming - part of our guide to problem solving.
Select Your Main Points
The talk/presentation should be divided into three sections:
- Introduction (beginning)
- Main Content (middle)
- Conclusion (end)
A useful structure would be the following:
- Tell the audience in the introduction what your subject is and how you have organised the presentation (by stating the key elements).
- Then tell them the details of the key elements and/or messages (by expanding and qualifying the key points in more detail and providing supporting evidence).
- Then tell the audience what you have just told them (by summarising the key points, concluding with the main subject again).
Work on the main content first
From your notes decide on the most important things that need to be said. If you have too much material, be selective.
As a guide:
- 3 key points are sufficient for a 10-15 minute presentation.
- 6 key points are sufficient for a 30 minute presentation.
- 8 key points are sufficient for a 45 minute presentation.
Arrange the key points in logical order and expand them with supporting material - discussion, argument, analysis and appeal. If you are hoping to persuade people then it is advisable to address potential objections within the presentation so that you present a reasoned, well-balanced view.
Decide Whether to Illustrate
If the presentation is short and informal it is probably not necessary to use any visual aids. Use visual illustrations if anything requires expanding, clarifying or simplifying. Illustrations of any type should be relevant and fully explained. Bear in mind that a talk will last longer if visual aids are used.
Introduction and Conclusion
The introduction should give a preview of what you are going to say and should gain the attention of the listeners with a statement of purpose.
Make it clear whether you wish to accept questions as they arise during the presentation, thereby breaking your flow and risk being side-tracked, or will invite questions at the end.
The conclusion should repeat the main points but this time try to use different words and summarise the main point and argument.
End decisively, so that no-one is in any doubt that your presentation is finished. This is also the time to ask the audience whether they have any questions.