6 Ways to Structure Your Presentation to Keep Audiences Engaged

hand drawn diagram of a presentation

Structure is the foundation of your presentation. It is critical to how your audience will digest the information you are feeding them with each slide. If your structure isn’t well thought out or if is non-existent then you probably won’t get the response you want.  Depending on your objective, structure will play a role in your ability to sell a concept as well as portray and communicate persuasion and awareness.

Your structure begins with an outline. From there, you can start moving pieces around to find the right flow to your deck. Here are some ideas to help you get there.

Big Picture Structure

When you are trying to convince your audience of a big, overarching idea or strategy, don’t get too granular in how it’s expressed. Explain why the current situation or process is not aligned with your organization's goals and why this new approach is more beneficial. Each idea in your presentation should directly apply to this big idea. Give some broad operational suggestions, but save the details for the appendix or even for another presentation where you are expecting to get down to the nitty-gritty. Every slide should reiterate this vision when you are structuring your presentation to always take into account the big picture.  

Use a Three-Part Consultant Structure

There is a proven template that many consultants use that delivers information in three parts:

  • Why there is a problem
  • What the audience needs to do about it
  • How you are uniquely positioned to solve the problem

Focus on the “Why”

If you presentation is focused on delivering an opinion and/or recommendation there is no need to waste slides explaining the mechanics of how you got there. Keep content moving toward what your audience needs to do about it and why. It’s much more interesting and will have a greater impact when you spend the bulk of your time simply answering the why.

Opportunity, Benefits, and Numbers (OBN) Framework

This framework is very effective with busy, executive audiences. The formula is simple:

  • Opportunity: what is the area that can be optimized or tweaked
  • Benefits: what’s in it for them
  • Numbers: data that backs it up

This simple template reduces the complexity of your message and pares down the facts that could be overlooked. The more you add, the more you risk diluting the power of the message.

Persuasion Principles: FOMO

The central idea in the new principles of persuasion is the fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s not just a term for millennials. It’s a real pillar of marketing. So, what does it have to do with structure? This type of structure should evoke a sense of urgency. This can be displayed in the font you use and the colors, and graphics. Each slide should be short. Weave in testimonials from clients to accentuate the urgency to ‘act now’ for fear that if they don’t take advantage of your services or products immediately, they will be left behind.

Include Examples, Not Just Supporting Information

In this type of structure, every point will have an example or use case. This takes the idea further than merely supporting it. They provide clarity to help the audience understand complex issues. It's best to limit examples to brief, actual examples, rather than hypothetical ones or "what if" scenarios. Unless you have some solid information to back these up, they can be easily shot down as being merely speculative.

The structure of your presentation has many factors to influence it. Once, you choose a structure, you will then need to execute it so that it makes sense, flows well, and engages the audience. By starting with a structure, your approach to presentations becomes more strategic rather than just haphazard. If you aren’t sure where to start, contact the presentation experts at KO/AD. We’ll take your ideas and notes and develop a structure and presentation that will interest and absorb your audience.

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