Wondering how to structure a presentation? Read our guide

How to structure a presentation

Our presentation courses exist because more and more business people are appreciating that in a highly competitive world the ability to present effectively is one of the most important skills to master. At First Take, we know that a successful, persuasive presentation requires a great deal of preparation, married with a good presentation style.

But like a great modern building the style of the your presentation is nothing without a faultless structure.

There’s various types of structures used in presentation and speech making. Here are four quick and easy methods that will help you arrange your material in a way that will have your audience hanging on your every word.

 1.     Problem-Solving Structure

Persuade your audience by identifying a problem and then solving it. Remember that your audience is listening to your presentation for one reason, they believe your presentation can help them in some way. So make sure you give them what they expect.

  1. Identify the problem: Frame the problem according to its severity. Your aim is to bring out intellectual and emotional empathy from your audience. As soon as they realize the severity of the problem, they’ll be eager to hear about the solution of the problem.
  2. Offer a solution to the problem: Include the benefits and make sure they will understand it.
  3. Call to Action: At the end of the presentation, give your audience something to do that’s relevant to the solution. They’ll leave feeling inspired.

2.     Residue Method

This method is particularly useful if you are presenting on how to solve a problem and  know that there’s people in the audience who share your view but also those in the audience that disagree.

  1. Tackle the problem and go into detail.
  2. Before you talk about the way you want to handle the problem outline the solutions put forward by your opponents. Instead of being instantly negative make sure you identify any plus points of their arguments. It will make you look open-minded and like the expert in the area.
  3. Give 1-2 reasons why their solutions won’t work.
  4. When all the other possible solutions are discussed, put forward your own and hammer it home. You will come across as considered, logical and knowledgeable.

This is basically how the Residue Method works. You eliminate point by point until only your arguments remain. Your audience will leave with your argument in their heads.

3.     The Classic Story Structure

This method is perfect for product or project presentations. There are three easy steps to follow:

  1. Describe the situation before your product or project. Don’t mention the product or project but make sure you acknowledge the current need (ie the background to your inspiration)
  2. Introduce the hero (in this case, your project/product). Highlight the advantages and the benefits of your product or project will have.
  3. Introduce the Villains (this could be anything in yur way such as rival products, lack of funding or difficult legislation to overcome).
  4. Outline how you will overcome the Villains and have a happy ending.


 4.     Chronological Structure

This method is best used for investigative presentations. Every step should answer the question, “What happens next?”. The key word is “Interesting”. Keep your audience’s attention by making it interesting. If you know how your story ends and the audience do not, you have the opportunity to ratchet up the tension by starting at the beginning and slowly building towards a climactic reveal. One presentation that masterfully employed this tactic was the presentation on the identity of the skeleton believed to be Richard III. Instead of giving the press an immediate answer speaker after speaker went through a chronological account of their work, dropping subtle hints that the skeleton might be Richard but not confirming it outright. It kept the gathered press and a worldwide audience on the edge of their seats.

Although these four methods are probably the most common there are other plenty of other methods available. Before preparing your presentation make sure you identify what type of presentation you’re about to do and choose an appropriate structural method.


Our expert- led presentation training can introduce you to a range of structures, styles and physical tips that are guaranteed to transform your performance levels.

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