Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles

Speaker Camp: Structuring Your Presentation

  • Print
  • + Share This
Creating an underlying structure for your presentation will greatly assist with the winnowing and clarifying steps you will be going through as you refine your presentation. A strong structure can also help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by the effort of birthing a fully blown set of slides from the germ of an idea you are starting with.
This chapter is from the book
  • Structure is perhaps one of the most critical components of a presentation. Without structure there is no clear narrative, and ultimately the goal of your presentation is lost. Structure is what can bond five seemingly random ideas together to form a powerful message that drives home the overall goal of your talk.
  • —Nick Finck

Developing the structure for your presentation may not feel like the most exciting part of the presentation process, but we promise that the rest of the steps will be easier if you dedicate time to this effort. Creating an underlying structure for your presentation will greatly assist with the winnowing and clarifying steps you will be going through as you refine your presentation. A strong structure can also help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by the effort of birthing a fully blown set of slides from the germ of an idea you are starting with.

Good structure doesn’t just help with the presentation process; it also increases your likelihood of giving a successful presentation when your speaking slot finally comes. A strongly defined narrative and organizational framework for your presentation will keep the audience’s attention, help them grasp any complex topics in your talk, and ensure that they take away your most important points. And solid structure helps you make sure that you end your presentation on time and on a strong note—there is nothing more disappointing than a presentation that starts off promising but fails to deliver a satisfying ending.

Start with Your Presentation Goals

Before you even begin to develop your presentation structure, it is important to spend some thoughtful time clarifying your presentation goals. When you ask yourself questions about why and what you are presenting, as well as what you hope to accomplish, you will clarify your topic, its primary points, and what you want the audience to take away from your time together. Without clear goals, it is far too easy for your presentation to meander through the allotted time slot, leaving your audience lost or unable to recall the valuable points you worked so hard to convey.

What Are You Presenting?

Start by ensuring that you are very clear on what you are presenting. At this point in the presentation process, you have identified your presentation topic and written your title, abstract, and bio. These are good first steps toward structuring your presentation, but remember that the process of writing your presentation abstract focuses mainly on how to fit within the conference submission process and how to get accepted as a speaker.

The presentation itself needs to build on this beginning work, but instead of being focused on the conference submission process and those choosing the speakers, it needs to be directed toward the audience who will be attending your session. Before you begin putting your presentation together, consider the following:

  • What do you want the audience to get out of your presentation?
  • If they were to remember only one thing from your presentation, what should it be?
  • What should your audience be compelled to do after your presentation?

You should be able to answer these questions clearly and succinctly.

Why Are You Presenting?

Next, get as clear as you can on why you are presenting. Unless you are very clear on why are you speaking and what points you want to make, your audience won’t be clear either.

Knowing why you are presenting also helps you avoid the pitfall of being so close to your topic and the messages you want to convey that you forget that your audience needs to be brought along on the journey. They are attending your talk to learn something new, which means that they probably don’t have the knowledge and background on your topic that you do. So don’t forget to lead them toward the main points.

Clarifying “why you are presenting” should also help you understand your underlying goals for signing up for all of this work (e.g., to educate others on a topic you think is vital, to enhance your career breadth). Defining what you want to accomplish will help you fulfill the necessary steps toward a positive outcome. With awareness of why you are presenting, you can more easily determine what you need to cover so that you fulfill your presentation goals.

Why Should the Audience Care?

And finally, it’s important to specify why the audience should care about your topic, about your perspective, and about your presentation overall. The first two questions—what are you presenting and why are you presenting—help you gain clarity on the “what” of the presentation; this third question ensures that you understand and can therefore communicate the “so what” of the presentation. Knowing the “so what” will enable you to find the emotional hook of your topic and to begin to craft the structure and the presentation artifacts to support that hook.

Is it critically important that the audience starts making changes in their day-to-day lives or how they work because of your presentation? Should your audience use your presentation as an introduction to a topic that you want them to further pursue on their own? Or do you just want them to start thinking of things in a new way, perceiving their world from a different perspective that may slowly permeate their actions?

Understanding the “so what,” convincing the audience that they should care about your topic, and helping them embark on whatever next steps are important will take your presentation from one of the ambiguous many that blur together in their conference-soaked brains and will turn it into the one that they not only remember, but that they talk about and take action on.

What to Do?

All of these questions may seem a little daunting. You probably have a lot of ideas and thoughts floating around your head, and it can be difficult to translate them into anything concrete. The more concrete you can be with the answers to these questions, the easier the next phases of creating your presentation will be, and the stronger and more consistent your session will be when you actually give your presentation.

As with many of the presentation preparation subjects we’ll walk you through in this book, breaking this task down into some specific steps can be helpful for tackling the work and making it more manageable. Find yourself a quiet spot for about 30 to 60 minutes and try the following:

  1. Using your title and abstract, start writing short phrases that describe what your talk is about. Try to keep the phrases brief, focusing upon the biggest main points of your presentation. From this list, craft one sentence on what you are presenting. Make this sentence as clear and specific as possible—no run-on dangling participles!
  2. Next, spend a few minutes thinking about what you want your audience to remember from your talk. Is there a central concept, methodology, or tip that you want to make sure they grasp? Out of these ideas, prioritize the one thing you want your audience to retain. Write it down in one sentence and consider using this sentence in your presentation.
  3. Write down all of the reasons you are presenting: you always wanted to try it; you think your topic is so awesome that everyone should care about it; you want to get promoted and think presenting might help; you want to become more well known in the industry. Once you have captured your main reasons, spend a few minutes thinking about the order of priority. Which reasons are most important to you? Try to be as honest as you can—no one will see this. Write down your most important reason.

When you are finished, save this work in a place easily accessible from where you will most often be working on your presentation. If you get stuck during the presentation creation process, if you get confused, or if you feel like you have more (or fewer) ideas than make sense for your presentation, review your sentences. They will keep you on track and ensure that you are continually focused on your big idea.

At the end of the day, a presentation is a selling opportunity. You may be selling an idea, you may be selling a way of working, or you may be selling yourself. The better you can define what your perspective is and why it is important, the more the audience will follow along with you and be willing (and even excited!) to buy whatever it is that you are trying to sell.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020