Do you sometimes get stuck beginning a presentation? Are you unsure if you’ve adopted the right presentation structure? Do you often ask yourself if you’ve nailed your message? Then this advice is for you.
You’re tasked to give a presentation and you want to make a knock-out impact, ideally with people talking about it long after you’ve left the room (positively, we hope!). But you’ve got a case of writer’s block and are not quite sure how best to start it. Nor how best to structure it. Nor how best to tell it.
If only there were a checklist of easy steps you could follow to help craft the best presentation possible. Funny you should ask…
As Ink+Iris, we wanted our name to reflect that we don’t just focus on design alone. We tell stories too. And an effective presentation has a compelling story at its core.
To us, a presentation is simply about communicating a visual story.
Storytelling isn’t rocket science, no matter how many “experts” may try to convince you otherwise. It’s pretty basic stuff. You do it every day with – most likely – a very engaged audience: your children as you read them a bedtime story, your friends as you regale your latest dating mishap, or your partner as you tell them about that time they “just had to be there” (never as funny as you think it is).
Starting here, and over the next few posts, you’ll find a checklist of steps and advice to keep in mind when crafting your presentation. Let’s get cracking!
Step 1. Create a clear and logical structure.
Unless you love doing things the hard way, always have a clear blueprint for the structure of your presentation. You’ll be making life a lot tougher for yourself if you don’t. When you have a concrete outline of how you’re going to frame your presentation, populating the content becomes a lot easier.
While many will recommend not to fire up PowerPoint just yet for this stage (did someone say, “post-it notes”?), don’t feel guilty if you like creating your structure directly in PowerPoint to save time. In fact, we often prefer to use PowerPoint to map out the presentation structure, as it’s so nimble and practical. It also helps make your writing more legible if you need to share your structure with others, which is often the case in bigger companies.
When crafting your structure, approach it as a storyteller. A story contains the typical arc:
- a. Introduce the hero and their current situation.
- b. Introduce the challenge or problem they are facing.
- c. Exacerbate the problem to a climax.
- d. Reveal the resolution to the problem.
- e. Conclude with a satisfying ending.
You could also have mini-story arcs escalating to a climax, i.e. smaller problems and mini-solutions to get you to the final big problem and resolution (called The Fichtean Curve).
Usually, you or your service/product are the hero of your story. You should introduce your business solution, the challenges/problems you’re trying to solve, the obstacles that stood in the way, and how you’ve overcome them.
Sometimes, it might make more sense to make the client the hero, or if in a pitch, it might be the insight that’s the hero. Whatever you decide, try to ensure you paint a picture of the ups and downs along the way.
And if you get stuck, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Like we said, we love helping with stories too!
Read on for Step 2. Use storytelling headlines to shape your presentation content.