How many dull presentations have you sat through?  How many have you delivered? (No need to answer that one!).  Well whatever, here is a new way to structure your presentations so that they have every chance of being really engaging for your audience. We have found that this approach works time and time again. It doesn’t even matter what the topic is, just trust and follow this outline structure and you will be surprised at how your audience will sit up and connect with you and the content that you are presenting. 

So this is what it looks like, five headings that you will use to prepare your presentation, but five headings that will never be seen by the audience.  It’s like a secret structure!  It’s there to hold the presentation together and order the way you present, but it will be unknown to your audience.  The headings are:

Me; We; It; You; Us.  

This is how it works:

1. ME

The point of ME is orientation. 

Start with a story or statement about yourself.  Not just who you are, but how the topic itself influences, interacts, impacts or effects you personally.  The audience needs to buy into the messenger before it’s going to buy into the message.  That’s a whole lot easier for them to do if they can see how the topic relates to you.   Insert your personal struggles with the topic, it will bring it to life and make you real and believable to them.  Me is actually about helping them to get you. It will aid the creation of rapport and enable the listeners to relate to you in a way that couldn’t begin to do if you started the presentation anywhere different.  

2.  WE

The point of WE is identification. 

If you want to engage your listener, then you need to broaden the tension you have created in Me so that it includes them. They too need to identify with the topic.  Move onto show how they are influenced, impacted or effected by the content of your presentation.  Outline the ways in which they relate to the topic, how it has a bearing on their day to day activities, how it connects to what they do. Make the case for your presentation, why it is vital that they tune in and listen to what you are about to say.  The key is to be as inclusive as you can, think about who is attending and during We portray scenarios that they will connect with.  

3.  IT

The point of IT is illumination. 

Now is the time you let the topic speak for itself.  Cover the key point of your topic, provide details that are necessary to further your argument or support the case that you are putting forward.  This is when you need to be very careful not to over do it and just blurt out everything you know about the topic.  Be selective, IT is about illumination so provide just as much insight that is needed to show your topics worth and value.   Don’t over do it, instead switch its light on, use whatever you can to add flair, even if the topic is ‘dry’.  Provide sufficient information for your hearers to get the point, understand the issue, make the decision.  Then move to step 4.  

4.  YOU

The point of YOU is application. 

This is where you pull together your arguments and logic and answer the ‘so what’ and ‘what now’ questions.  What does your presentation mean to the hearers, what are the implications and outcomes of the line of thinking you have presented.  This is where you resolve any tensions set up in the WE section by applying the logic back into the hearers situation.  At this point you need to spell out plain and simply what the next steps are, who needs to do what by when, what the implications are if they do not adopt or understand etc.  

5.  US

The point of US is inspiration. 

Everyone needs a little inspiration to go and make things happen, so this is your chance to end the presentation on a high by casting the vision of a world in which your logic or topic is fulfilled. US is when you look forward and describe that future state.  Detail what the system, outcomes, situation, result will be like when we all implement it or put the behaviour into practice.  As you finish your presentation you are looking to describe the collective benefits of your topic in a way that increases it’s desirability for your audience. 

So that’s it, a new exciting structure you can apply to any presentation topic and by doing so will create genuine engagement with your audience.  If you’re tempted to say, "it wouldn’t work for my topic" then we’d like to challenge you to give it a try.   We have yet to find a presentation that hasn’t worked better for using this structure. Here is an example; imagine a really dull topic, like ‘changing an accounting process’ (sorry if you don’t think that’s dull), you would need to expand this a lot to develop the content of your presentation, but it would sound like a longer version of this:

ME – "One of the things that I find really frustrating is the way in which I have to submit the D7 accounting form twice…"

WE – "Perhaps some of you have experience of this, maybe like me it’s form D7 or alternatively it’s the double submission of C6′ or maybe the way in which you have to post copies of form B4 to both the financial accounting and management accounting systems…"

IT – "so here’s the great news, it’s changing for the better and this is how…"

YOU – "Now to get this underway it’s really vital that each of you complete the assessment by Friday the 4th, you must submit your details by…"

US – "When everyone has completed the assessment we will be able to switch processes and wave good bye to all the double entry’s that are currently so frustrating. No more double submissions of D7’s, C6’s…"

Yes there is much more you can do to switch boring presentations and make them vibrant and exciting.  We’ve got great courses that cover those other things.  However if you want to wow your audience by creating totally engaging content, structure it using the five: Me; We; It; You; Us method. Nobody will know that it’s even there, but done well everyone they will sit up and take notice of what your saying.  Wave goodbye to dull presenting and give it a try.  

We have created a pdf template to help you apply this structure, grab the download here:


Bob Bannister

Twitter: @bbbannister & @iManage