Structuring your presentation logically makes it easy for your audience to follow along and understand how you came to your conclusions. Think about your presentation’s structure as a road map that guides your audience from point A to point B. Just as you wouldn’t give driving directions by throwing a bunch of street names out to your friends and hoping that they order them correctly and then turn the right way on each, you shouldn’t present your topics haphazardly.
We often talk about how a presentation is really a storytelling form. Basic stories have a very simple structure: the rising action leads to a crisis, which is followed by the dénouement. Take away the English-major language and you basically have a beginning, middle and an end. This configuration should serve as your presentation’s overarching structure. Introduce your subject, present your arguments and data and summarize your message to conclude.
Within the above framework, you should ensure that facts and data logically support your arguments. Think about stating your conclusion only after you have presented your supporting data. Instead of stating, “Company X should sell products in department stores because the target consumer shops there, the competitors are well-represented there and department stores are awesome,” begin with your supporting points so that your audience feels that they came to your conclusion (Company X should sell products in department stores) with you. Let’s face it – people are much more likely to implement ideas they think they thought of themselves.
Draw It Out
Before you draft your presentation, consider what your audience will think is logical. If you are presenting to an audience outside of your industry, using a lot of industry-specific jargon won’t help guide your audience. If they don’t understand what you are saying, your structure is really beside the point. Draw out your presentation like a map with facts leading to conclusions and conclusions working together to form your larger message. Is it clear how you got from point A to point B? Once it seems clear to you, ask others to review your presentation and comment on the structure. Our minds work differently, so what may seem like brilliant logic to you, may not even make sense to others.
Ergo . . . .
When it comes to creating your presentation, you can use verbal and visual cues to denote logical structure. To help your audience hear your logic, use words and phrases like “first,” “second” and “third,” “because of A, B and C” or “therefore,” “so then,” and “it follows.” It may not make for beautiful prose, but it works. When illustrating processes, organization or cycles, use that PowerPoint Smart Art tab. Hierarchal charts to show decision-making processes or images connected by arrows to illustrate how your recycled paperclip eventually becomes part of a space shuttle work wonders when trying to logically explain a multi-step process.
Now, go forth and present logically![banner]
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