presentation skills training

What are the different stages of a presentation?

We often talk about three being the magic number, so you won’t be surprised to learn that there are three stages of a presentation – the beginning, the middle and the end. But you know that already right? What you may not know though are the stages within each of those three sections and the key things to get right as you go through each section.

That’s why, in our book “High-Performance Presentations”, we have outlined our unique Simply Amazing Structure (SAS) to help guide you through all the stages of a talk.

Beginning of a presentation

The beginning of a presentation contains two parts of our SAS – a little introduction and the WHY. These two sections don’t need to take up much time – in fact, we often suggest they don’t – but when you’ve finished, the audience will know why your presentation is relevant to them and why they want to listen to the middle and end of it.

There is more detail on these sections in the blog “How to start a good presentation” So what we’ll do here is focus on the middle and end sections.

  • AVOID making your beginning too long – people want to get on with the benefits of listening
  • AVOID being ‘you’ focussed – people don’t want to know all about your credentials (yet)
  • AVOID looking nervous, worried or shifty, or the audience will wonder what you are hiding or what they need to be worried about!

Middle of a presentation

The bulk of the presentation time is likely to be spent in the middle section. In our unique SAS structure, the two sections we cover in the middle are the

  • WHAT section, which includes the information, data and facts – it’s the main points, argument or idea.
  • HOW section, which covers the next steps or actions you want the audience to take.

Scope out what you want to put in each section’s big picture, don’t go into detail yet until you have finished the whole SAS plan. In the book “High-Performance Presentations”, you’ll see that I recommend you complete the HOW before the WHAT when you are preparing the presentation. But, for now, let’s keep it simple and stick to the order in which we present the information.

The WHAT section

  • Divide the section into three parts (possible beginning, middle and end) and if you need to subdivide further then again divide it into three branches.
  • Remember to include facts and figures plus emotional stories and consider what visuals will be effective.
  • Before going into your wonderful solution/answer/product, make sure you first set up the problem/question/need in the audience’s mind.

The HOW section

  • List between 3 and 7 steps you want the audience to take as a result of your presentation – this may be things like completing a form, booking an appointment or buying something.
  • The HOW is the reason why you may not be getting the results you want – because you haven’t directly asked or made clear what you want!
  • Remember, don’t ask for too much too soon, you may need to make a series of presentations over time to get to your final goal.

End of a presentation

Using the SAS, the end of the presentation contains:

  • Questions – an opportunity for the audience to ask any questions, not just those around clarity they may have asked throughout the presentation.
  • Thoughts – this is where instead of avoiding discussion, you might want to encourage it so that you get to understand any objections or concerns in the room.
  • Wrap up – once all questions and thoughts have been covered, it’s time to wrap up the presentation reminding them why they should take the actions you suggested (in the HOW section).

In our presentation skills training course, Present Like A Pro, we go through this SAS structure with you, either on a one-to-one basis or with your team. We will walk you through how to apply it to your presentation and business. So if you want to learn more about how to influence, engage and persuade when presenting.



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Dee Clayton

Posted by Dee Clayton on 29 Oct 2019

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