Establish Presentation Structure

Once you’ve created meaningful messages, how do you arrange them for maximum impact? You structure them in a deliberate and logical way. A solid structure is the foundation of a coherent presentation, and shows the relationship between the parts and whole. It’s similar to the couplings on a train or the string of a pearl necklace; it keeps everything connected in an orderly fashion, as if the content were destined to fit together neatly within a given framework. Without structure, ideas are easily forgotten.

“It’s unwise to merely dump a pile of unstructured information into the laps of your audience. They will have the same reaction as if you take a watch apart, fling the pieces at them and say ‘Here’s all you need to make a watch.’ You might get high marks for research and energy, but that is a low-class consolation prize. By doing this you confess that you don’t know what to do with all the stuff you’ve dug up.

In general, most presentation applications prompt users to create slides in a successive order. This linear approach naturally focuses the user’s attention on the details of the individual slides rather than the presentation’s over-arching structure. To make sure your audience will “see” the structure, eliminate these linear constraints and create an environment that lets you view your content spatially.

There are several ways to do this. You can use sticky notes, tape slides on a wall, or lay them on the floor. Any method that pulls your content out of a linear presentation application will work. Moving out of a slide-creation environment helps identify holes and keeps you focused on the bigger picture.  This will help move your presentation from being about a bunch of small parts to being about a single big idea.

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