“There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject; then to get your subject into yourself; and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.”
— Alexander Gregg
Ideas are important. They are the cornerstone of any presentation. But ideas presented without proper structure will almost certainly have their impact diluted.
So, when does a presentation fail to reach its full potential?
- When there is a lack of a unifying theme
- When your topic lacks depth
- When there are obvious omissions in parts of your idea or argument.
Ultimately, when you fail to adequately structure your content.
Importance of Structure
No two audiences are the same and thus, each presentation must be tailored to match that of its purpose – to educate, motivate, persuade or inspire. Depending upon whether your goal is to convince your audience to buy a product, to follow a course of action or to abstain from doing something, each scenario will require a different approach.
An organized structure helps you link together various sections of an important topic. This provides a logical sequence or easy-flowing storyline to your speech.
Can slides help map your structure?
Preparing your slide deck can help bring clarity around how to structure your message.
It can help you identify your key ideas and create an outline that captures all facets of your topic. It forces you to think about the areas important to an audience: the big picture, why they should care about your message, problems they currently face, solutions to these problems, why the call-to-action is appropriate and even necessary for them, as well as why the data or statistics you have collected are relevant to both your argument and to the audience.
By preparing a slide deck, you will be forced to break your idea down into subtopics. These subtopics will then be broken down further into the main points that comprise each subtopic. Once you have an idea around all the points to be discussed, you must then consider how each point and subtopic relates to one another.
By undertaking this process, you will have a much greater understanding of how to most effectively impart your message onto your audience.
Are slides necessary for effective presentations?
Whilst creating your slide deck is important for you to be able to most effectively structure your content, you should ask yourself whether the audience will benefit from the slides themselves. I.e. Do your slides enhance the conveying of your message?
Whilst here at SlideBot, we obviously love the use of slides, but that doesn’t mean they are appropriate for every presentation. You should think of slides as scaffolding. They help build your structure and make best use of materials. So you should use them to guide and support your speech and not the other way around.
Let’s say that you decide that your presentation does not require slides, now what?
presenting without slides
Here’s a couple of tips that may help:
- Break down your presentation down using the subtopics and main points that you identified when preparing your structure. This will make it clearer for your audience to follow the progression. It will also enable you to give a concise summary during the conclusion.
- Write your points down and use notes (or memorise those notes) to ensure you’re not skipping over any important points.
- In the same way that we have discussed visual storytelling; you should aim to have your audience follow your message by having them visualise it, which will enable them to relate to it in a deeper, more meaningful way.
If you do not feel comfortable undertaking your speech without slides, don’t do it. Only try this is you feel comfortable in doing so and if it is right for your content.