how to structure a presentation

Why follow a presentation formula? Because it works!

It can sometime feel close to impossible to structure your speech or business presentation so you get your ideas across and keep your audience engaged.

How long does it take you to put a really good presentation or pitch together? One where you know you’re going to win the deal or get the ‘yes’? Is it 3 hours? 3 days? 3 weeks?  The truth is, it takes most people way too long to craft up a winning pitch or presentation. Michelle’s theory on presenting is, “if it’s not quick – something’s wrong”. Sound good?

So why is it taking you too long? We know we should tell stories, have great visuals and use our voice and posture correctly.

We know we need to be able to answer questions impressively and that we should be reading the audience’s body language so we can make critical decisions and maybe even changes on the spot. We don’t want to rave on, and we want to stick to our message and express ourselves as clearly and succinctly as possible, using the right words on the day. And what about rehearsal? Where does that fit? What does ‘rehearsal’ even mean? And don’t even talk about the fact that you have to craft up the message and then await the infamous ‘sign-off’ from your leadership team and legal counsel, which results in a painful back and forwards until weeks later we have lift-off! There’s a lot to think about!

So what is the presentation formula to follow?

At Michelle Bowden Enterprises, we’ve come up with a model to help you understand the Presentation Process. The aim of the Michelle Bowden Enterprises’ Presentation Process is to ensure you achieve your presentation objectives, whilst serving your audience and feeling fantastic.  Take a look here:


Determine the desired outcome

This is where you work out what you want to achieve, as well as what your audience wants to hear from you.

Many business presenters are guilty of the infamous ‘update’ presentation.  This is where the presenter just raves on and on with busy slides and talks at their audience regardless of the relevance of the subject matter to the people.  If you have ever been to one of these information sessions you will know how deadly boring it can be to sit in an audience being ‘informed’!

At Michelle Bowden Enterprises we believe there is always an opportunity to captivate, inspire and compel your audience to your way of thinking. Through either Individual Coaching or attending the Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass you’ll learn the process that will give you clarity around your desired outcome every time.

Decode your Audience

In order to influence your audience you must first show them that you understand them and their current circumstances. People like to be understood. Presenting to a group of people who are completely unknown to you is fraught with danger because you won’t anticipate their objections, may well pitch your message and energy incorrectly, possibly misread their body language and facial cues and you’ll feel thoroughly disappointed with yourself.

Taking the time to decode your audience will mean you are comprehensively prepared for anything, causing you to feel confident, credible and strong while presenting.

Allow us to take you through our analysis process to help you ascertain the current state of your audience members and your desired state for them. You can learn the art of rehearsal.

Design Persuasive Message

To get what you want in life you often have to reply on others to give it to you. Influence is all about moving someone from Point A to Point B and it’s a learnt set of skills that anyone can master. Whether you are communicating one to one, one to few, or one to many, if you are seeking to influence your audience in your presentation, you need a model that focuses on the different needs and expectations of your different stakeholders. The right model will ensure you achieve that behavioural change.

The presentation foundation: individuals take in information differently, learn differently, and form opinions differently. As a result, individual stakeholders will be silently preoccupied by the different agendas and expectations they have of you. These agendas and expectations lead them to formulate certain questions that they are expecting you to address in your presentation. It’s essential you know what these questions are. The answers to them form the foundation of your persuasive message.

Let Michelle Bowden Enterprises guide you through the best-practice model for structuring your presentation message in an Individual Coaching session or the Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass.

Transform through story and linguistics

We know that all great speakers take their audience on a journey. No matter whether the speech or presentation you are giving goes for 5 minutes or 5 hours, it’s important that your audience feels a variety of emotions with the end result being they feel compelled to take the action you require. There are around 9 storytelling models you can use over the top of your solid presentation foundation. The three most common are listed here:

13 steps to persuasive presentation design: a story structure that uses linguistic patterns (combinations of your words in sentences) to persuade your stakeholders. There are 13 different linguistic patterns, each one with it’s own specific job, that come together to grab your audience’s attention, build rapport, motivate your audience, manage objections, set the scene, frame content, discuss steps, call to action, facilitate Q&A, call to action and then close for results. Great presenters follow a formula – if you don’t know the formula you’re missing out on a powerful result from your written and spoken communication.

At Michelle Bowden Enterprises we believe it’s essential that you understand the underlying theory and science of the various linguistic patterns that excellent speakers use so that you are as professional and persuasive as possible. Specifically, my 13 Steps will help you:

  • Build deep rapport with your audience.
  • Stimulate your audience to listen actively.
  • Manage audience conflict or objections to you and/or your content.
  • Influence your audience to think, feel and do what you have planned.
  • Ensure that you answer the questions that audience members are asking (both unspoken and spoken) regardless of their personality.
  • Feel confident that you have prepared thoroughly for any audience.

Monomyth  – also called the hero’s journey, is a story structure that is found in movies, folk stories and myths. In this method, the hero sets out from the world of common day into an unknown, difficult, threatening place and a decisive victory is won. They return home with a reward or newfound wisdom to assist his community. Lots of modern stories still follow this structure, from the Lion King to Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Magic Formula Story – developed by Dale Carnegie and the most simple storytelling structure to use. In this method you deliver what is known as IPB: the Incident, followed by the Point and then the Benefit to the audience. This method can be used for icebreakers, quick anecdotes and longer, more detailed stories.

It’s essential to master the art of great storytelling if you are serious about winning the hearts and minds of your audience. Let Michelle Bowden Enterprises show you how through Individual Coaching or the Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass.

Cement the learning

In a survey conducted by Michelle Bowden Enterprises we found that only 28% of people went back to their desks after the most recent business presentation and did anything with the data they had heard.  That means 72% went back to their desk and did absolutely nothing with the information – not a thing! Let’s make sure that we are not presenting and wasting others’ and our own time.

We know that people learn visually, auditorily and kinesthetically (to pick just one of the 50 filters through which we see the world).  The truth is that people will not always listen when you speak. It’s our role as presenter to use all the resources we have at our fingertips to stimulate the senses so our audience is completely engaged throughout the meeting.

Allow the MBE Design Team to help you incorporate flip charts, white-boards, handouts, props, and posters to help your audience engage with your content. Work with us to ensure that you are memorable and respected for your expertise, excellent effort and preparation.

Create visuals

And then there’s the slides – sigh! We know from our research at Michelle Bowden Enterprises that most presenters jump straight into the slide design before doing any real audience analysis or message creation. Let me help you by saying this is back-to-front. Your message will not be as clear as it could be, and you will not achieve your current to desired state shift in the audience if you start half way through the process Presentation Process. Tough talking I know, and it’s important that you hear this.

Your slides form a critical visual stimulus that can even activate the auditory and kinesthetic senses when designed brilliantly. Let our MBE Design Team work with you to create the perfect look and feel for your slide design on the day.

Rehearse Authentic Delivery

Are you nervous about going blank, waffling on, or getting pulled ‘off track’ by strong audience members? If you’re keen to come across as a confident, engaging and compelling presenter, it’s essential that you rehearse prior to presenting. Make no mistake, exceptional presenters rehearse! A typical executive who engages Michelle to coach them for an important event would rehearse their opening and close between 50 and 200 times. The more you run through your presentation, the clearer and more seamless your delivery, and the more you will embed your message and hear that ‘yes’.

Rehearsing is where you run through the key messages over and over again, so you embed the general ‘gist’ of your message (and sometimes the result is that you will end up, almost accidentally, committing some of the parts of your message to memory). Whilst you may inadvertently memorise some of your content, you’ll find with rehearsal that you will deliver most of your message in a different way each time and the result is that you will sound more authentic. Most people are too busy to try and completely rote-learn their presentations prior to delivery, and rote learning can result in a stiff, disconnected presenter lacking empathy and connection.

Michelle Bowden is an expert presentation coach who will show you the art of rehearsing so you don’t waste time practicing incorrectly. You can learn the art of rehearsal through Individual Coaching or attending the Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass.

Perform with Excellence

Your body plays a fundamental role in the believability of your message. We all have little mannerisms and habits that we demonstrate when presenting that either engage or repel our stakeholders. And it’s true that your audience will use your body language as the final test when deciding on your congruence and authenticity as a presenter. As Martha Graham, dancer and choreographer said, “the body never lies”.

At Michelle Bowden Enterprises we firmly believe that some personal coaching from the experts, so you know where and how to: manage your nerves; stand; gesture; move; as well as how to use your voice; interact with your slides and media; and create two-way with your audience is essential.

Where necessary Michelle will even help you with the 1 week, 1 day, 1 hour before so you know exactly what to prepare physically and mentally, how to seat your audience and how to take and exit your stage. Where there is a team presenting you may need help with the segue from one speaker to the next.

For bigger presentations you may also like some help with microphone technique, sound and lighting and stage placement. Individual Coaching or attending the Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass will ensure you’ll perform with excellence on the day.

Achieve Desired Result

It’s easy to see that when you choose to follow the Michelle Bowden Enterprises’ Presentation Process you will achieve your desired result. Please choose to work with Michelle for your next important business pitch or presentation.  Anyone can be a persuasive presenter. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and doing it.

Happy Presenting!




Share this post