How to Create a Successful Presentation or Speech
I will give you a step-by-step guide on how to create a winning presentation or speech. I want this to be an episode that you will be returning to anytime you are preparing a speech or presentation and I want to make it super simple for you. You will be following the steps I give you and you can be sure that you will create a winning presentation that will be a massive success. I know that you’re excited about this topic as much as I am because creating a successful presentation is important for your success and building your brand.
I’m offering you an amazing structure that you can use for any presentation or actually for any type of public speaking. Whether you’re delivering a business presentation, informal presentation, or a keynote, these strategies will help you create a winning presentation. And with this strategy, you will create the impact you desire on your audience and build your brand as the expert that you are.
In today's episode, I will be talking about the structure of a winning presentation and not so much about the delivery. We will save this topic for another episode.
So before you actually start creating your presentation you need to be crystal clear on your goals. And you need to be clear on what’s in it for them – for your audience. Remember back to episode 1 when we spoke about the Communication Model. You need to be clear on your intention and impact.
So let’s begin with your intention or goals. Take pen and paper and decide if your intention is to persuade, inform, or inspire? Write it down. Your delivery will be very different based on your goals.
Now, what about the impact you want to create. Take pen and paper and write: At the end of my presentation, my audience will… Think… Put down what you want them to think, Feel… Write down what you want them to feel, and Do… Write down what you want them to do after your presentation. Write it down and have this paper in front of you as you will be designing your presentation. Everything in your presentation needs to support these goals.
The next step is to get clear on who your audience is. Who are they? Is their communication style formal or informal? Do they prefer to talk big picture or details, in other words, forest or trees? Are they detail-oriented? What is their level of expertise about your topic? How do they feel about your topic now? Do they love it, hate it, are they indifferent?
Once you are clear on your intention, if it’s to persuade, inform, or inspire, and on your desired impact, create a theme or through-line for your presentation. This is one message, one sentence that your audience will be taking away from your presentation. Everything in your presentation needs to tie back to your through-line.
Once you’re clear on your intention, impact, and through-line, you can start creating the structure of your presentation.
Every presentation will have 3 main parts. Introduction, body, and conclusion.
Your presentation introduction and conclusion need to be the bookends of your presentation. They are the two most important parts of your presentation. They are strategically placed to capture your audience's attention, build your credibility, give a call to action and make you memorable.
The purpose of your introduction is to capture your audience's attention, build your credibility and get them excited about where you’re taking them.
A well-organized presentation is like a nicely wrapped present. You look at it and you immediately want to open it up and see what's inside. Think of your presentation as a present, you will pay close attention to the following elements that make it memorable for your audience.
In the opening, you need to capture your audience’s attention.
You do that by opening with a bang. The first words need to hook your audience’s attention and give them a reason to listen.
Think back to the impact you want to make on your audience and their needs. The opener needs to connect to the value-added for your audience, it needs to connect to What's in it for them.
What are some fantastic hooks to open with?
An awesome opener is an open-ended question. This question needs to tie to the through-line of your presentation and it needs to be focused on your audience - on What’s in it for them. This also gives you an opportunity to end your presentation by tying it back to the question at the beginning.
Another great hook is a story. This immediately appeals to your audience’s emotions.
You can also hook your audience with a bold statement.
Another fantastic hook is to open with Imagine that… Here you ask them to be the protagonist and imagine a situation. When you tell someone to imagine something it’s impossible for them not to do it.
You can also open with a fact, statistic, or quote.
So this is your hook.
Then you reveal your main theme. You do it quickly to keep your audiences’ attention. This is your message that you want them to take away. It’s your through-line. What is the most important thing you are telling them? Again, think about what’s in it for them.
This theme is the most important point of your presentation and everything in your presentation - your main points need to tie directly to this theme. The more focused you are on your through line the better. Make sure that your theme is very well defined and that everything in your presentation relates to it.
Now, you’re still in the introduction. You hooked your audience. You revealed your through-line, and now it’s time to build more credibility.
You want to show credibility and warmth through your body language and confident delivery.
If someone can introduce you before you open your presentation, give them some specific details from your background that they can use to help you build your credibility. If they can do that it will be amazing and it will immediately position you as an expert in the area.
Now I want you to brag a little as well. In the intro, mention a specific key detail in your background that relates to your subject matter. If you have talked to experts, if you've gone through reports, studies, mention that. If you have previous experience that makes you a perfect fit for this topic, mention that. This is important for your audience. They want to know that you’re an expert and that you know what you’re talking about.
OK, so you’re still in the intro, you opened with a hook, revealed your through-line, built your credibility. Now, in the next step, you want to offer your audience a teaser. You preview where you’re taking them. Give them a tiny bit of information about what will follow. This preview needs to tie to your through-line and you can even list your main points that will follow. This is an opportunity to remind them what they can look forward to. Actually, you will be doing that not only in the intro but throughout your presentation. That way you will keep them alert and interested all the time.
Now, you hooked your audience and revealed your through-line, you built credibility and you gave them a preview that ties to the throughline and lists the main points.
The next part is the body. Here, you will present your main points.
Your presentation needs to line up all the pieces in a logical sequence. You may want to follow a chronological sequence, or you prioritize your points based on what the audience needs to know first, second, third. Or even build points into a scenario of lessons learned. Whichever way you decide to organize your main points, be sure that they're easy for the audience to follow.
Now, the best number of your main points is 3. Never do more than 3. Now for each point, you can have subpoints and additional stories. For example, if your presentation is 60 minutes long, then you can have 3 main points and 3 subpoints for each point.
Now I want to offer you a few amazing outlines you can use for your main points.
If your goal is to persuade, you may want to use the “What, Why, How” structure. First, you tell them the “What” - what is the idea. Then you explain “Why” it is important to them and then you follow with the “How”. How can your audience make it work?
If your goal is to sell something, then you can use a framework called “Problem, Agitate, Solution”. This is typical for commercials.
Another framework for pitching is “Situation, Complication, Resolution”. You start by describing a current situation, then you follow with a challenge that is happening or might happen in the future, and finally, you propose a solution, and you back it up with evidence to add credibility.
Another one for selling is “Features, Advantages, Benefits”. Under features, you tell your audience what your product can do, under advantages you tell them why it is helpful, and under benefits, you tell them what it means for them.
If you want to inspire, you can use a story as your outline. Now you can make a story of anything. Whenever someone did something, that’s a story. So the basic structure of your stories will be “Context, Challenge, Action, Resolution, and Lessons Learned”. Now the challenge in your story can be many things. Anytime anyone overcame an obstacle, that’s a great challenge to talk about. You can talk about someone’s creativity, how they approached something in an unusual way to resolve a situation. We all love these stories.
If your goal in your presentation is to inform or educate, you can use a more descriptive outline. For example, chronological, or regional. Let’s say you’re presenting sales results, then it makes sense to break down the data by region so you will use a regional outline.
Now back up each of your points with stories or some other type of supporting evidence.
This can be statistics, quotes, examples. It’s important that you appeal both to the head and heart. So have data, facts, statistics, and logical arguments but use also stories to inspire an emotional response in your audience.
Now all this time, make sure that your audience knows exactly where you are in your presentation and where you’re heading. Keep them alert by telling them what they can look forward to. You’re taking them on a journey so make sure they know where they are and where they are heading. The way to do this is to have your main points logically sequenced with smooth transitions between them.
So you review your point A, link it to point B, preview point B, and then you start discussing your point B.
So once you’ve gone through all your main points using a smooth logical transition between each of them, the next part is the conclusion.
Here again, you want to achieve a few things. As we said, presentation beginnings and endings should be the bookends of your presentation. While in the intro you wanted to capture your audience’s attention and build credibility, in your conclusion you want to give your audience a call to action and make yourself memorable. The opening of your presentation was like unwrapping a present, and the conclusion is like a grand finale of a firework display.
How to do it?
You review your main points with a summary, then you will present your closing statement, followed by a call to action. Next is Q&A, and only after the Q&A your final wrap up statement.
So in the summary, you will review your main points that you made in the body of your presentation. You have been carefully building these arguments, so at this point, your audience is sold, this is just to remind them of the journey they have made with you.
Then comes your closing statement. This needs to tie directly to the hook from your intro and your through-line.
There are a few amazing ways to close:
You can title close. This means that you reframe the title of your presentation. Or you reframe your opening line. If you started with an open-ended question, close with a reference back to it and connect the points you shared as the answer. This is the best way to end. Why? Because people will feel like you’re closing the loop. And there’s something very satisfying about that.
Now, there are also other ways to end. You can end with a quote or your personal tagline. Just make sure that it ties back to your hook and through-line.
Then, comes your call to action. What should your audience do now?
Do you want them to go to your website and purchase your product? Or should they join an organization? Or if your presentation was part of a series of meetings, do you want to invite them to the following one?
At the end of your presentation, your audience is highly receptive. So use this opportunity and drive them to take action.
Now we’re not ending yet. Now comes the Q&A section. What’s important is that your Q&A is near the end but it’s not the actual end.
This near the end, not at the end approach, it does two things. Number one, if no one has any questions for you, you can smoothly pivot to your wrap-up statement. Number two this approach lets you take control of your final words. The last words the audience hears need to be your voice and your wrap-up message.
Now handling Q&A is a big topic. It’s the most lively and interactive part and a great opportunity for you to shine. So you can look forward to a special episode of the podcast only about Q&A. I will also talk about how to effectively ask a question in front of the public.
So stay tuned for the next episode to stand out in your next Q&A, either as the person who responds or asks a question.
So after the Q&A comes your final wrap-up message. This is your final closing statement. Here you reiterate your main message or call to action.
Wonderful, now, you know how to create an amazing presentation and create the impact you desire, and drive your audience to take action.
I’d like to give you an example so that you see how all these strategies can look in practice.
So let’s imagine that we’re at an e-commerce corporation ABC and my task was to pick the best provider for our online payments. Let’s say that I have done my research and the best provider is the company Secure Pay.
So my goal for my presentation is to persuade my audience that this is the best choice, and I have a call to action for them. We need to purchase and implement this payment solution so we will need to establish a project team. This is my goal.
Then I ask myself. What do I want them to think, feel, and do. I want them to think ”this is the best provider for our company”. I want them to feel confident that this is the best solution, and I want them to establish the project team quickly.
Now I ask myself. Who is my audience? I will be presenting to a small group of senior managers so I will want to be friendly, but rather formal. Because they are senior, they probably want to hear the big picture, they don’t want the details. In terms of head or heart, I know that they are a mixed group. Some of them decide based on head and others based on heart.
So my through-line or my main point is that Company Secure pay is the best payment provider for our company because they are the safest and quickest provider on the market. My outline will have 3 points. I choose the “What, Why, How” framework.
So I will open with a smile and a positive tone. If the audience is small, I can even use their names. Then I will follow with my hook.
“Jane, Jeff, Bob, thank you for inviting me today. What are the two most important things customers are looking for when they make online payments? According to a shopping behavior survey, customers want their online payments to be safe and fast.
In my extensive research on payment providers, I have compared 27 offerings.
Secure Pay is the industry leader. The technology they use is secure. Their payments are fast. I have also researched how much time does the implementation take and I’m excited to share the results with you today.”
That was my intro. Notice that I grabbed the attention with the open question. I showed my credibility by talking about my extensive research, and I outlined my agenda. I mentioned what we’re going to talk about subtly. I wasn’t like first, second, finally, although in some presentations this might work great.
Now come my 3 main points. Notice my smooth transitions between them.
“Secure Pay is the industry leader. They have over 6 million B2B customers around the world. Let me share some customer testimonials… Now that I introduced Secure pay, let’s look into why this is the best provider for us.”
“Secure pay offers above-average safety for online payments. In fact, their technology has been awarded. While other provider's average speed of payment is 6 seconds, Secure Pay takes only 2 seconds to process a payment. This is really important for our customers."
"Now that we know that secure pay is the industry leader and why their offer is the best for our company, you might be asking what the next steps are. I created a plan that you can see on the screen… If we establish the project team next week, we can get everything implemented before the main season. That way we will be ready for the Holiday season and we will be offering our customers the best pay experience.”
So that was my body. Of course, I would add supporting evidence, stories, testimonials, and so on. But you get the idea. Notice that I was transitioning smoothly from one point to another. The way it feels is like my audience is following a story with me.
Now comes the conclusion.
“Secure Pay is an industry leader. Their technology is secure and fast. These are the two things customers are looking for. And that’s why Secure Pay is the best payment provider for our company. I am ready to connect with the IT team and set up our project team next week...
I've shared a lot of information and wonder what questions come to mind?” – That was my transition to Q&A.
After the Q&A I will end with my wrap-up statement: “The above-average speed and modern and safe technology make Secure Pay an ideal choice for our company. I’m looking forward to seeing how this excellent payment solution will impact our holiday sales.”
That was my wrap-up. It was strong, and I ended on a positive note, looking forward to future opportunities. I was smiling and maintaining eye contact.
So I invite you to use this process and this structure in any presentation or public speaking. Open as if you’re unwrapping a present. Take your audience on a journey in the body of your talk, and make sure that at each step they know where you’re heading. And remember that the conclusion is like a grand final of a firework display.
And you will stand out and shine, you will be memorable, and you will create an impact and strengthen your brand.
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