Organizing from the Top Down

Many speakers and organizations put together their presentations backwards. Here’s how it often occurs, especially with organizations that default to the use of presentation software (by the way, turn that default switch off; more on this in a later commentary).

1970 Pontiac GTO ConvertibleThey decide upon the slides, and try to fit everything else into that construct. Bad move. A similarly poor choice is one that selects the speakers first, then tries to shoehorn the presentation to fit their areas of expertise. Again, bad move.

A method designed to create a more powerful talk begins at the top by agreeing upon the main theme of the presentation. Then hammer out the messages that speak to your theme. Next, decide on your messengers—the presenters charged with communicating your message. What comes last? You guessed it, the slides (if you opt to use them) or your other support materials.

Remember, for a better organized presentation, do things in this order:

  1. Theme
  2. Message
  3. Presenters
  4. Slides

This approach results in a cohesive structure that better helps you achieve your communications goals.

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