How to Organize Your Presentation and Make Your Point

How you choose to organize your presentation has a major impact upon your success as a presenter. It’s true that there’s more to it than preparing a PowerPoint slide deck. But organizing your presentation doesn’t have to be hard work.
You can begin by building a purpose for your presentation. Your purpose might serve one or several of the following aims:

  • Entertain
  • Inform
  • Inspire
  • Motivate
  • Persuade
  • Advocate

In each instance you should note the impact your presentation will have on your audience. Take some time to consider how your audience will feel about the subject after your presentation. Ponder what their views will be once you have finished. Think about how their knowledge might be enhanced by your presentation. And, if you are successful, think about what actions they will take following your presentation.

Now you should consider the points you want to make. Inevitably there will be several. Write down all of them. Once you have listed them all, you have the chance to rationalize the list.
Aim for three good points in your presentation. At a pinch you might succeed with four or five. But any more points will not be remembered by your audience so it’s best to plan for brevity.

Aim to delete some points, edit them or aggregate them. Some of the points on your list might be better used to illustrate or support more powerful points. And others might be turned into examples, vignettes or stories. However you organize them it’s best to remember that each point should be self-standing, powerful and memorable. Each point should serve the purpose of your presentation and bring relevance.

Your three main points provide the basis for your presentation — its theme or thesis. Writing down the presentation thesis, the central argument, is useful for the next stage. And, of course, it’s invaluable when you want to promote your presentation beforehand. There are three easy ways to organize your points.

  • Time Line. A chronological order to your points might be appropriate. Using a rigid time line works with a strong story but it isn’t always the best option for a presentation. You could reverse the time line. Or you might want to mix it further. Painting a vision of the future and then detailing the steps needed to get from here to there might be appropriate. If you do mix up the chronological order, aim to explain each step very clearly.
  • Tell them. You might adopt the simplest of techniques in which you tell the audience what you intend to tell them. Then you tell them. And then you tell them what you have just told them. It’s neat and simple and it includes plenty of repetition of the main points. Probably ideal for internal events, it might be overly simple for external presentations.
  • Problem, cause, solution. In its simplest form this organizing method highlights a problem or issue. It addresses its cause. And it presents a solution. In reality the problem typically has more than one facet. The cause has more than one dimension. And there are many solutions. But the problem, cause, solution approach provides ample scope for more detailed consideration of your three main points and their supporting evidence.

Whichever option you choose, a well-organized presentation has a better chance of success. And a well-organized presenter is also more likely to be successful. With well-structured points and a coherent central argument your presentation will be understood by your audience. And, importantly, it will be remembered.