Structure your presentation for impact


Your job as a speaker is to make your audience think.

To do that, you need to provoke thought at the get-go and to keep the audience engaged until the very end. But, if tell-tell-tell doesn’t work, what does?

“You nailed the interview. How did you feel? Pretty good I bet. But why? What did you do?” Linda’s opening was very impactful. She was my client and I was proud of her.

Two weeks earlier, Linda, the senior HR VP for a global retail company, had asked me to help her prepare for her presentation today, to approximately 1,200 university students, on how to prepare for a job interview. When we met, she brought along her first draft. It had most of what was needed, but the structure left little to be desired.

Linda had always been told, that for a presentation to be good you needed to; “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em. Tell ’em. Tell ’em what you told ’em.” Sound familiar? It’s a formula often credited to Paul White, the first news director at CBS (circa. 1930) and it’s still taught in most public speaking courses. Well intended? Yes. Impactful? No, not some 80 years later.