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Presentation Aid: Content and Structure


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First Steps

One of the very first points to keep in mind in giving successful presentations is that intent and content material are two distinct animals. The former is what you hope to complete in your speech; and the latter is anything you’re going to say, show, or do to complete that objective. If you think in these stipulations and split the two in your thoughts, your material will continually grow appropriately and organically out of your purpose.

From experience, I have found that there are four broad and distinct structures for organizing presentations and speeches. Which of these you work with will depend on the dynamics of your audience, your objective with those listeners, and the subject matter you choose to achieve that purpose. Any one of those aspects can change from a previous situation, and your chosen structure should also adjust appropriately.

But what about a topic that you can construct your speech around and a rational construction to get there? Topic-based speeches and presentations are inherently powerful and persuasive. And when they advance logically, listeners can remain with you every stage of the way.

The Four Structures

1. Story Telling: Can you coordinate your speech around a riveting story? Everybody love stories, and will pay attention to them thirstily. We all have stories - companies and organizations no less than individuals. If you style your communication in the context of a story, with all the crisis, struggle, and emotions that people bring to their decisions, you will have a very captive audience.

2. Dilemma-Resolution: Do your crowds need to be schooled about a problem before you can discuss possible remedies? If your audience needs a more in-depth evaluation, you might choose a variance of this Structure: the Problem-Cause-Answer style of organization. A Dilemma-Resolution structure would operate well in that circumstance.

3. A Chronology: Talks on historical subjects easily lend themselves to this structure. Maybe your speech lends itself to a chronological technique. A talk on dealing with change, for example, you might retrospectively look at corporation routines up to now then present the motives why new methods need to be put into place. This will make your presentation highly persuasive if you deliver your points in this manner.

4. Solutions and Advantages/Disadvantages: If your crowd is already acquainted with the issues, you may elect to omit discussing them and go right to possible remedies. When you lay out each solution to your audience, now you can mention the pros and cons of each approach. This gives the listeners a well thought out approach rather than the info they may previously had.


A speech on urban gang violence, for example, might be more suitable for a Dilemma-Cause-Solution structure when performed, say, to the charitable branch of a organization. Alternatively, a group of social workers who handle violence every day and understand its causes might prefer the more direct Pro-Con approach instead.

If you have detailed a problem, it is only natural for you to offer a solution, i. e. giving one side of an argument — the “Pro” stance — begs the offer of the other side, the “Con” argument, and then a solution of some substance. And in any story, situations will unfold in an pure manner that’s driven by a narrative with human motivations and actions at the center.


The great advantage of using any/all of these easily accessible structures is that once you make your decision, the content of your discussion almost writes itself. Think about any of the organization methods I’ve just described: In every case, the first piece of information delivered by the speaker almost automatically suggests the next bit of content. Structure is very important!

These four structures offer an effective and painless way to assemble a presentation. Along with your comprehension of two other key elements in a successful presentation — your audience’s needs and your strategy to fulfill those needs — that’s an advantage any presenter can profit from.

Useful links

Plan an Introduction, Main Body and Conclusion

Public Speaking Quotes

Voice Control


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