The Framework for a Great Presentation – It’s Elementary!

Last week I had the good fortune to be invited to a session at my daughter’s elementary school, along with the other parents, to learn about the process our 5th graders went through over the past few months – on how to deliver an effective presentation. As a marketer deeply invested in and passionate about the power of a great presentation– needless to say, this was an experience that greatly resonated with me.

And what these 10 and 11-year-olds learned – is right on spot. As were these kids. They got it. So, what’s this framework? It’s quite simple, easy to remember – and very effective. Let’s take a look.

First: Securing Audience Attention

In a situation where not everyone in the audience knows who you are, before you start talking, it’s important to present yourself and a credential or two about why they should listen to you. Proof points are important for every phase in your presentation.

Once you’ve gone through the basic introduction – it’s important to “tell them what you’re going to tell them.” Set up expectations. It’s like landing on a web page without a title. Before I start reading I want to know what I’m going to read about.

Second: The Body of the Presentation

As you outline what you want to talk about – it’s important to remember the “rule of 3.”

Thomas Jefferson was a proponent of the rule of 3. In the US Declaration of Independence, he didn’t have 34 slides, each with 10 bullet points about inalienable rights. He had 3: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The French also have 3: liberty, equality, and fraternity. The examples are endless. Some great ones can be found in this article in Presentation Magazine.

Bottom line – your audience will not remember more than 3 messages. So, pick them well, develop them well, and – here’s the second part of this section – always present the WIIFM ("what’s in it for me").

Your presentation is not about you. It’s about the benefit your audience will gain from what you have to say and offer. Always make it about them.

Third & Last (rule of 3 😊): The Close & The CTA

Before your Thank You slide, assuming you’re using slides, make sure to “tell them what you told them.” Don’t take any chances – reiterate, clearly, simply, and with great conviction and authenticity – the 3 points that will change their lives (and why).

And, the CTA (call to action) - if a presentation comes without a call to action, does it really exist? Maybe it does, but then it disappears into thin air. The next step should always be clearly, convincingly, and invitingly articulated.

This clear and structured order of things can (and should) be mixed up just a tad. Namely, if you really to get them engaged, on a deeper emotional level – even before you introduce yourself – set the stage (literally and figuratively) with a great story. But, not just any story – a story that in its essence will be connected to the main point of your presentation.

For example, if your presentation is about a great new cyber security software that your team has developed – tell a story about a cyber security failing that really happened and its inglorious consequences. Then, you can naturally segue into the crux of your presentation (after introducing yourself, of course).

If you don’t have a great story – an opening video might work as well. You can find something relevant on YouTube, or even produce it yourself (there are lots of low-cost options even for the tightest of marketing budgets). Regardless of whether you curate or create – it’s best to keep it under 60 seconds.

So, whether you’re a crafty 11-year-old trying to convince your parents that adopting a dog will teach you responsibility – or an entrepreneur on a fund-raising roadshow – the framework of your presentation can be very effective if you remember its simple structure:

1. A short story (or video) goes a long way

2. Introduce yourself and your topic

3. Limit yourself to 3 messages that are all WIIFM

4. Recap the 3 messages

And, as always – let them know that you appreciate the opportunity to stand before them and the fact that they gave their time and attention. (Please and thank you really do go a long way).

Want to find your inspiring opener and brainstorm the 3 killer WIIFMs of your presentation? Get in touch and let's do some great marketing together >>