Outline your presentation

By Kendall Martin

The one thing that helps me through nerve-wracking presentations and speeches is an organized outline. I am well-versed in writing outlines for research papers, and that skill serves me well in speech preparation. Even the most gifted orators organize their points before speaking. Try these tips from Every Person’s Guide to Public Speaking for structuring a compelling presentation:

  • Decide on an introduction. Your opening statement should be the “hook” for your presentation. You want to use a quote, anecdote, startling fact or even humor (when appropriate) that will grab the audience’s attention and engage them in what you are about to present.
  • Establish main points. Three to five points is the most you want to cover in a presentation. If you cover too many areas, you risk losing your audience’s attention. Write out your key statements and use those as the guideline for your supporting remarks.
  • List supporting information. For each of your main points, write out a list of the data, statistics, anecdotes or important facts that support your statements. Don’t go into lengthy detail. Your outline should be a place for plain language that will make it easy for you to recall your points during the presentation.
  • Create a powerful conclusion. Aim for 10-15% of speaking time to be the conclusion of your presentation. After announcing that you are closing out the presentation, you should restate the main points you want your audience to remember. In your outline, the conclusion should be a direction to review your main points, relate the conclusion back to your introduction and make a call to action.

What tips do you find most helpful when outlining a presentation?

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