Organizing Your Presentation

You may not often be called on to make a presentation, but I’m betting that when you do, you want to make sure that your audience—whether large or gathered around a conference room table—doesn’t doze off.

This post draws on advice from Scott Schwertly, the author of How to Be a Presentation God, which sounds terrific.  In any case, the hints you’re reading on this page come from his SlideShare blog.

So, Scott endorses the “Tell them what you’re going to tell them.  Tell them.  Tell them what you told them” school of presenting.  And I agree with him.  I think this approach works because most of us are moving fast, many of us are distracted, and we can probably all use help in absorbing new ideas.

Scott’s tips are as follows.  (By the way, he presents five tips.  According to a Harvard Business Review article, if you’re attempting to persuade people of your point of view, it’s best to use an uneven number of tips.  Three or five, say, rather than four or six.  Seems intuitively correct to me…)

Start with a teaser

Set context briefly by describing a situation.  Describe why it’s a problem, again, briefly.  Then “tantalize your audience by hinting at your answer to the problem.”

Reveal your three main points

Let your audience know why you’re speaking.  I think this has to do with why you’re qualified to speak.  Don’t go on and on.  Think 10-second elevator pitch.  Then tell them the three main points you plan to make.

“Inform & Ignite”

Don’t you love that?  At this point “you dive into the three main points of your presentation.  Each point, according to Scott, should be backed up with three supporting sub-points.  Scott notes that your audience should be “frantically scribbling.”  I disagree.  They need to be listening to you.  If your audience is small enough, provide handouts.  If not, send the presentation to those who give you business cards.

Review what you’ve said

Here’s where you “lock down” your presentation by reviewing your main point.  The “tell them what you’ve told them.”

Get them on their feet

Wrap your presentation up by providing a clear call to action.

What I really like about Scott’s post is that it makes sense and meshes well with the Pecha Kucha style of presentation which prescribes 20 slides, 20 seconds each.  None of those snooze-inducing monsters too many of us are accustomed to.

Of course, following his injunction requires some self-discipline and practice, but I think it’s worth it.' About Susan Monroe

Principal and crackerjack communicator at Written Right, Susan Monroe has been helping technology companies like Adobe, Cisco, and HP create crisp, no-snooze marketing copy since she went out on her own. Learn more and read her blog at

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