No Image Available

Bob Bannister

iManage Performance

Managing Director

Read more about Bob Bannister

In a Nutshell: Five ways to structure your presentation effectively


How many dull presentations have you sat through – or worse still, delivered?

To ensure that this awful situation doesn’t become a reality, it’s very important to structure your argument so that it has every chance of really engaging the audience, regardless of topic.

Therefore, in order to prepare an effective presentation, it’s useful to place it within the framework of five key headings:

  • ME (orientation)
  • WE (identification)
  • IT (illumination)
  • YOU (application)
  • US (inspiration).
These headings act as a secret structure to hold the presentation together and help order how you present information, in a way that is unknown to the audience.

1. The point of ME is orientation

Start with a story or statement about yourself. The aim of this approach is not just to let people know who you are. It’s also about describing how the topic influences or affects you on a personal basis.
The audience needs to buy into the messenger before it can buy into the message. That’s a whole lot easier for them to do if they are able to see how the subject relates to you.
Include your personal struggles with it – this approach will bring the subject to life and make you appear real and believable to your listeners. ME is actually about helping them to understand you.
It will help create rapport and enable your audience to relate to you in a way that it couldn’t begin to do if you started the presentation somewhere different.

2. The point of WE is identification

If you want to engage your listeners, you need to broaden out the tension that has been created by ME to include them because they must identify with the topic too.
Show them how they will be influenced or affected by the content of your presentation. Outline how it has a bearing on their day-to-day activities and how it relates to what they do.
Make the case for why they should tune in and listen to what you are about to say. The key is to be as inclusive as possible – think about who is attending and, during WE, portray scenarios that they can connect with.

3. The point of IT is illumination

This is the time to let the topic speak for itself. Cover the key points and provide any details that are necessary to further your argument or support the case that you are putting forward.
This is where you need to be very careful not to overdo it and just blurt out everything you know. Be selective – IT is about illumination so provide just as much insight as is required to show your subject’s worth and value.
Don’t over-egg the cake. Instead try to be illuminating and present your information with flair, even if the topic is a ‘dry’ one. Provide sufficient information for your listeners to get the point, understand the issue and buy in.

4. The point of YOU is application
It is at this point that you clarify your logic, pull together your arguments and answer the ‘so what’ and ‘what now’ questions. What does the presentation mean to your audience, what are the implications and possible outcomes of the thoughts that you have presented?
This is where you resolve any tensions set up in the WE section by applying the arguments to your listeners’ situation. You will need to spell out plainly and simply what the next steps are, who has to do what by when, what the implications are if they don’t do something etc, etc.

5. The point of US is inspiration
Everyone has to be inspired in order to go and make things happen. So this is your chance to end the presentation on a high note by offering the vision of a brave new world in which your ideas come to pass.
US is when you look forward and describe that future state of being. Detail what the system/outcomes/situation/results will look like when your arguments have been implemented or suggested behaviours have been put into practice.
As you finish your presentation, it is important to describe the collective benefits of going with your mode of thinking in a way that makes it appear desirable for your audience.

Bob Bannister is managing director at learning and development provider, iManage Performance.

2 Responses

  1. engage with your audience

     Great article. The five key headings for the structure of the presentation are interesting and a way that is uncommon for the majority of people looking to gove good structured presentations. The point about engaging with the listeners is key and is probably the most important part of giving any sort of presentation. You need to be confident in your content and in your approach and people will resonate witht that.


    David Evans, commercial director at accessplanit, specialising in learning management system and training admnistration software

  2. Presenting with impACT

    How people deliver presentations is often more powerful than what they say. Our clients benefit from learning from professional actors how to use their body and voice more effectively, use the ‘stage’ to best effect and deliver a presentation that engages with the audience, whether or not they include Powerpoint or other tools. People need to listen to what you are saying and not just hear it so you must be engaging. Many people get very nervous when they present, hence the sometimes over-reliance on Powerpoint. Acting tips that help to calm the nerves whilst ‘waiting in the wings’ can help too.

    Steve Hemsley Director Hendrix The Dog Productions. ‘Training with a dramatic twist’

No Image Available
Bob Bannister

Managing Director

Read more from Bob Bannister