Your Presentation: setting it up

Good presentations are clear, relevant, structured and provide the audience with a takeaway message


YOU have probably seen a presentation at school, university or at work that you would describe as “less than successful”.

The presentation was probably unsuccessful because it failed to meet your expectations.

You may have found yourself asking one of the following questions:

  1. What is this presentation about?
  2. How is this presentation relevant to me, my organisation or my industry?
  3. I can’t follow, where is this presentation going? What are the main points?
  4. I’m giving an hour of my time, how does this presentation benefit me? Why do I care?

Setting up your presentation is important because it will help you take control of the presentation right from the start by managing the expectations of your audience and answering their unspoken questions.

The presentation set up has four main parts:

1. What

What are you talking about?  You should make it clear for the audience what subject or topic area the presentation will cover.

2. Why

Why is the presentation relevant to your audience? Put the presentation in the context of recent events or impending events. For example: “you will be able to use the skills you learn in this presentation on the MECE Framework in your next presentation, client meeting or research report.”

3. How

How will the presentation be structured?  Provide a structure for your talk.  Do you have three main points – what are they?  Will you allow questions during the presentation or should people wait until the end?

4. Outcome

What will your audience take away with them at the end of the presentation that they didn’t have at the beginning? Outline what your audience will get out of the presentation. What will they know? How will they feel? What will they do?  For example: “when you walk away from this room, you will be able to structure your thoughts more logically.  Structured thinking will help you give clients clear explanations so that they can easily understand and engage in the consulting process. Being easy to understand is client friendly and will make you a more valuable consultant.”

[For more information on consulting concepts and frameworks, please download “The Little Blue Consulting Handbook“.]

Appealing images use the golden ratio

1. The golden ratio

THE golden ratio is believed to have aesthetically pleasing properties. The golden ratio is a naturally occurring number that has been the subject of interest since ancient Greek times, and has been used in architecture, art, books and music since at least the time of the Renaissance. For example, artists have used the golden rectangle to select the most aesthetically appealing canvas dimensions.

If the golden rectangle is aesthetically pleasing, then it makes sense to use the golden rectangle when preparing images to be inserted in presentations, proposals, reports, blog posts, etc. The image above has the dimensions of a golden rectangle and, more interestingly, the shape of the spiral above the street lamp is a golden spiral.

Denoted by the Greek letter phi, Φ, the golden ratio is an irrational number equal to:

Golden ratio 6

2. The golden rectangle

The golden rectangle is the name given to any rectangle for which the ratio of the longer side ‘a’ to the shorter side ‘b’ is the golden ratio.

Golden ratio 5

Interestingly, if the two sides of a rectangle are in the golden ratio then the ratio between the sum of the two sides and the larger side is the same as the ratio between the larger side and the smaller side.

Golden rectangle