• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 5. Organize Sort Out Your Ideas ... > Principles for Sound Organization

Principles for Sound Organization

  • The criteria for presentations are different from those for a written report. Audiences commonly lament being subjected to boring, seemingly endless presentations. Too many people develop presentations that resemble technical or financial reports: thorough to minute detail, carefully rigorous in development, nothing pertinent left out. The trouble with this approach is that it won't work with busy audiences who are unwilling or unable to absorb all that information.

    Figure 5-1. Key how-to's for organizing a presentation.
    • Start with an outline. Don't write out a presentation: write an outline instead.

    • Set your theme and major points. Make this the first graphic you prepare—your "elevator" speech.

    • Follow the "tell 'em" approach in introduction, body, and summary for most business presentations.

    • Open with a "zinger"—catch their attention.

    • For high level, busy audiences tell em up-front what's coming.

    • Lay out your main points to be clear, concise, cohesive, and convincing.

    • Apply tracking devices to help them stay on course.

    • Set your time targets to cover key topics.

    • Have a concise summary, reiterating the major points, and end with a strong send-off.

    • To expedite the process apply organizational tools, both manual and computer.

  • Presentations illuminate the essential. Presentations seldom cover the whole territory; they cover the key issues that will do the job to the audience's satisfaction and in the specific time allowed.

  • Simplicity is utmost. In a world of complexity, achieving simplicity may seem an impossible task. Yet it is vital in presenting to people with possibly mixed backgrounds and in an environment loaded with hazards to communication. Structuring it so a fourth-grader can track it is not a bad policy.

  • The clock rules. Ignoring this is a common failing. I recall a presenter showing up for a meeting with a stack of fifty transparencies for his twenty-minute time slot, a complete mismatch. In major presentations, time is tightly allocated and controlled, with a standard speaker's lament, "Impossible, I need more time." Sorry, you get ten minutes, so tailor the topics for highest priority. Remember that during Presidential debates each candidate gets one minute to sum up their entire story. Also, CEOs in meetings with venture capitalists have to do the job in eight minutes.

  • Less may be more. "Brevity is the soul of wit," said Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet, and this is a key maxim in today's time-pressed world (Figure 5-2). This concept was well demonstrated by two headlines following President Gerald Ford's rejection of a federal grant to New York City.

    Figure 5-2. Communicators old and new often need to tighten their topic organization.

From the New York Times:

Ford, Castigating City, Asserts He'd Veto Fund Guarantee; Offers Bankruptcy

From the New York Daily News:

Ford to City: Drop Dead[2]



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint