Planning and Structuring a Presentation

You need to plan the structure of your presentation very carefully. Consider:

  • the time limit
  • the amount of information available, then determine how much of it you will cover
  • how much detail you can include

Structuring your presentation

Have a clear, organised structure for your presentation. Structuring a presentation is no different from writing an essay or a report; it requires an introduction, body and conclusion. Like an essay, these sections of your talk need to fit together, and be linked clearly. A poorly structured talk will confuse and frustrate an audience.

Presentations should have the following structure:

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Introduction

An introduction is like a road map that tells your audience the direction your presentation will take.

State your topic and tell the audience what your presentation will cover.

A good introduction will capture an audience’s attention. Start your talk by greeting the audience and introducing yourself.

State your topic clearly. For example:

  • ‘I’m going to talk about...’
  • ‘Today I’d like to discuss…’

Provide an outline of the main points.

Provide any necessary background or definition of terms.

Body

The body of your presentation is where you develop the main points and present examples and evidence.

The information in the body needs to be well-structured. Decide on an organising principle. It could be by chronological order, theme or order of importance.

Make sure you provide clear links between main points, explanations and examples.

Use visual aids to engage the interest of your audience and ‘show’ instead of just ‘tell’.

Emphasise important information. Tell your audience when information is particularly important or interesting. Tell them why.

Use verbal ‘signposts’ to guide your audience through the presentation, highlight key points and indicate the different sections of your presentation.

  • ‘Another point is...’
  • ‘A contrary view to consider is’
  • ‘In conclusion’

Move from one point to the next by using phrases (such as ‘Firstly ... secondly’ ... ‘finally’).

Introduce supporting evidence:

  • ‘For example ...’
  • ‘[Author name] states that ...’

Conclusion

The conclusion is usually a summary of the main points made in the body of the talk.

  • Restate the main points.
  • Re-answer the question.

Don’t introduce any new information in the conclusion. Take the opportunity to show that you have covered all the points you made in your introduction.

Work out how you will finish your talk. You can signal your conclusion with the phrase ‘In conclusion ...’

Restate the purpose of your talk, and say that you have achieved your aim:

  • ‘I think it’s now clear that ...’

Thank the audience, and invite questions/ comments.


 See next: Preparing and delivering your oral presentation