So you’ve done your research and have the information at your fingertips. You know what it is your audience needs to know – and you know what it is you’re gonna tell em.

But how are you going to structure your presentation? Where to start? Well, go back to where you defined precisely what it was you needed to tell the audience – what the purpose is for your presentation, and exactly what it is your audience need to know to grasp that purpose. This is the final product, the end position. What you need to do is to create a pathway from the information you have researched that will lead you directly to it.

So you need to carefully consider what are the essential points that need to be explored so that the purpose becomes clear. And how long do you have to deliver them. Professionals work on a ratio of one main point to approx 4-5 minutes in a 15-20 minute presentation.

Therefore if you know what the time allowed is you can hone down to the absolute essential points to lead your listeners to the desired outcome. Each main point should be explained and the relevance to the whole discussed. It should be exampled with supporting facts and figures and any obvious opposing opinions should be acknowledged and responded to. Try to make each point lead naturally into the next, so the flow of your argument is smooth and logical.

It is this logical sequencing that makes it easy for your listeners to understand the inevitability of your position. If you lead them carefully through the information with the end result clearly in your mind; you will not be tempted to change the topic in mid speech.

Your audience is willing to be persuaded, but they also need to know that your information is coherent, sourced, credible and logical. They need to be able to follow the route of the argument, and when you finally get to the purpose it should feel inevitable.

When you have roughed out the outline of the information, you need to go over it carefully to ensure that everything you have included is necessary to get the message across. If you are not sure take it out and see if it is still logical. Don’t keep anything in the speech that doesn’t provide support for your main points or leads to your purpose. Don’t worry about the opening and closing part of your presentation just yet; what we are working on is the central informative part, the bit where “You tell ‘em”

Now rehearse it, make sure that you are using simple direct language. Use the language we speak not the language we write, that way you will sound natural. Get some one to listen to you and ask them if they can follow your arguments and if your supporting information is logical and believable. Have you sourced your facts, and have you credited your quotes? Citing the source of any facts you use to support your opinions make them credible; it avoids the “Says who” reaction.

When you are happy with the structure don’t forget to save the final draft. You have completed one third of the total presentation, but the worst is over. Next time we’ll look at “Beginning with a Bang” and “Closing with Confidence.” But right now pour yourself a glass of wine and savour the knowledge that when it’s time to deliver the presentation you certainly are “Gonna tell ‘em”


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