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Chapter 4. Finding Your Flow > Guidelines for Selecting a Flow Structure

Guidelines for Selecting a Flow Structure

When you are selecting a Flow Structure for your presentation, consider these factors:

  • The presenter's individual style. Choose a Flow Structure that feels right. A little experimentation and practice will help you decide which option works best for you. The fact that one of your colleagues had success with a particular Flow Structure doesn't mean that you will, too. Of course, this gives the lie to the very notion of the one-size-fits-all corporate pitch.

  • The audience's primary interest. As you've seen, different Flow Structures emphasize different aspects of the story. Choose a Flow Structure that focuses on what interests or concerns your audience most. Remember that Opportunity/Leverage works well for investor presentations and Form/Function for industry peer groups.

    A biotechnology company used the former Flow Structure for their IPO road show by starting with the opportunity (the market for their target disease) and then moving on to how their technology addressed or leveraged that market. Shortly after they went public, they were invited to appear at an industry conference. For this presentation, they moved their Form (that is, their technology, or their secret sauce) to the top, and moved their Function (that is, the market for their technology) to the later position.

  • Innate story factors. Some stories lend themselves naturally to a particular Flow Structure. Take advantage of that tendency. For example, a company or industry going through a transition is a prime candidate for the Chronological option.

  • The established agenda. If you are participating in a conference, seminar, or other gathering in which your presentation is expected to conform to a set format or respond to a particular challenge or question, then use a Flow Structure that meets those requirements.

  • Esthetic sense. This is another way of saying instinct. If you have a strong feeling that one Flow Structure just “looks good” or “sounds good” or “works well” when applied to your story, then go for it! Don't try to cram your story into a Flow Structure that feels awkward. If you are comfortable making your presentation because it pleases your esthetic instincts, then you will transmit your comfort to your audience, and they will empathize with you.



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