How To Find The Structure And Flow Of Your Presentation
You are now ready to shift to your left brain and put the clusters you identified in a sequence and logical flow. You need to develop a pathway to determine the best order to present the clusters in your presentation. Again, this material is from Jerry Weissman’s book.
Here is the problem you are facing. If you read something and you don’t understand it, you can go back to the book, find the material and reread it. When you are presenting, listeners can’t do that, so if they miss something, they have to start thinking and stop listening or interrupt you or give up. None of these options are acceptable.
Therefore, you have to become the navigator for your audience, make it easy for them. To do this, you have to have a way to put these segments into a logical sequence to create a lucid and persuasive presentation. These techniques are called Flow Structures, and there re 16 of them to cover various types of presentations.
Following are the 16 flow structures identified by Jerry Weissman in his book, “Presenting To Win”.
A presentation using a modular flow structure means that each cluster within the story stands on its own, and the clusters are interchangeable. Examples would be a CFO making a presentation on the company’s financial results or a new product presentation on a product’s unique features. You do have to link the clusters together so the audience can follow along.
The chronological flow structure connects your clusters along a specific timeline connecting time and change. The emphasis here is on the change that occurs or occurred.
The physical flow structure is organized around time and a physical place. For example, how and where and why a distribution company added 12 additional distribution facilities over the past year.
The spacial flow structure organizes your clusters according to spatial dimensions. For example, describing something from the top-down or bottom-up or the inside out. Illustrations like concentric circles or a product cutaway can help clarify and tie this presentation together.
The problem/solution flow structure is very attractive because it has a natural, built-in benefit for its conclusion. Explain the problem and then spend more time talking about the solution. This flow structure is very popular.
The issues/action flow structure is similar to the problem/solution, but it is less harsh. Especially if the problem has to do with the company. Some industries don’t like talking about their problems and would rather talk about an issue and the action that leads to the solution.
The opportunity/leverage flow structure is similar to problem/solution and issues/Actions but instead of a problem, you are talking about an opportunity and how you plan to exploit that opportunity.
The features/benefits flow structure explains the product or service features and the benefits these features deliver.
The case study flow structure tells a story about how your company solved a problem or met a special need. It uses your clusters to explain and guide the story to its conclusion. The story needs to be a problem or opportunity that is important to the audience.
The Argument/Fallacy flow structure is for when you have to face a very skeptical crowd. Here you have to raise arguments against your case and rebut them by pointing out the fallacies or inaccuracies that underlie them. Only choose this strategy when the arguments against you are widespread.
The compare/contrast flow structure is used to compare your company or product or program, etc. against others. Take a specific point and show why you or your product is superior. You have to be careful when using this flow structure because you will have to talk about the other company or its product. You al have to know your audience before using this structure, so you don’t offend people in the audience.
The matric flow structure is familiar to most people. It is two-by-two or four-by-four boxes that compares two different issues or opportunities against each other. It can make a complicated topic easy to understand and visually easy to remember. For example, equity types vs. inflation expectations.
The parallel tracks flow structure is a complicated structure and is used to explain complicated issues like biochemistry more easily. It takes the matrix and then goes more in-depth into each matrix box to provide additional information.
The rhetorical questions flow structure takes the audience’s point of view, states their queries, and then answeres those questions. This flow structure is especially useful if you use issues that are on the minds of the audience rather than making up the questions yourself.
The numerical flow structure is very familiar. The “ten reasons you should ….” This structure is easy to use, and the audience knows where you are in the presentation at all times, but it can be overused and not as exciting or suspenseful as other structures.
The flow structure you should use is the one that best fits your situation, your style, and helps tell your story. Remember, the mission is to get to Point B, the call for action. It’s more important that you select one or two flow structures to use. Not choosing a flow structure risks that your presentation rambles along, confusing the audience.
Before choosing, ask these four questions:
- What is your Point B?
- Who is your audience, and what’s in it for them (what benefits)?
- What are the main clusters you need to address?
- Why have you organized the clusters the way you have?