The best presentation structure


Need a presentation structure for persuasion, for selling, for convincing…?

Since founding Presented we’ve always been interested in the part that neuroscience plays in the presentation experience.

As well as how information is displayed to best be understood by the brain (and quickly), there are also scientific-based structures that will help your audience to recall your messages.

Cliff Atkinson’s celebrated presentation book “Beyond Bullet Points” details a strategy that forms the backbone of our “go to” presentation structure here at Presented. It ticks the neuroscience box in several ways: repetition, engagement, relevance, repetition, clarity, proof points, conviction and of course repetition.

If you remember one thing from that sentence it’s likely to be repetition right? Because it was repeated in the text. It’s just a clumsy way to demonstrate that it works. It’s not rocket science but it is neuroscience.

The best presentation structure, full stop:

1. We set the scene, we make sure it is relevant for the audience, we engage with a challenge of how to get from A to B, and state a call to action.
That’s the beginning.

2. The middle is stating and proving 3 key points that support a call to action. Assuming you have 3, and we recommend that number but we can stretch to 5 if it’s necessary (it probably isn’t).

3. And the end is a recap of the 3 key points and that call to action.

So in summary, we engage the audience, and tell them what we’re going to tell them. Then we tell them. And then we tell them what we’ve told them. The repetition.

It’s important to point out that with this presentation strategy that the call to action is not as simple as a “next step”. It’s more a fulfillment of the presentation objective.

For example, a call to action is likely to be: “Partner with us for the best software solution” (a bit generic, apologies). “Partner with us for…” or “Enroll today for…” or “Embrace the changes to be at the forefront with x…”. The call to action should be motivating, it should lead to a benefit or an advantage. And from the rest of the presentation content it should be as clear as pie exactly why it’s the right action to take.

We don’t treat the call to action as a “phone us to make an appointment” or “visit our website to find out more”. It is however the objective of why you are presenting. In its simplest form it’s usually to motivate or persuade.

So make the most of the opportunity you have to present to an audience. By wall means include a next step, it can appear on a final slide to add some practical clarity, but it’s not what we mean here by a call to action.

The best structure for investment decks

Pitches for investment can follow the same structure that we’ve loosely described above. But there is a difference.

Here the angels, investors, dragons, call them what you will – they are all looking out for some key business information that they need to see in order to judge the merits of the business case being presented.

Guy Kawasaki has listed out 10 slides that are required, and we created our own guidance PDF to cover these. (The link will take you to a LinkedIn doc post).

You’ll need to detail: The scene, the problem and the opportunity that your service or product will solve, the size of the marketplace, how you’re going to tap that market, what your personal credentials are, where you’ve got to so far and your timeline for the next 3 years. You’ll also need to acknowledge what the competition are doing and what differentiates you from them.

Ideally you’ll have just one slide for each of these areas. If you go off topic – it might be entertaining for you, but it’s unlikely to be needed for the angels at the initial pitch stage. They’ll do their research and due diligence so you won’t want to drown them in details too early on.

Another recommended structure

The next best structure to mention is a non-linear presentation!

You’ll still need to create a powerful beginning, of course, and a call to action that fulfills your goals.

A non-linear structure involves letting the audience decide where to go. Although it works well with small meetings, it can work with big meetings also where you can set up voting and really let the masses choose their own destination.

Hyperlinked content, menus, case studies that are chosen for that particular client or customer – all are non-linear features that you can click at will. It keeps the presentation fresh, and makes it feel far more bespoke and special for the customer.

Need more ideas regarding presentation structures?

Talk to the team and we’ll help you smash your next presentation.