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presentation training Presentation structure p11

A lecture is the process whereby information gets transferred from the notes of the lecturer to the notebooks of the students without bothering either party’s brain


A well constructed talk always falls into three main sections:

1. Introduction/Head
2. Middle/Meat
3. Ending/Tail

Tell ‘em what you are going to tell ‘em
Tell ‘em,
Then tell ‘em you’ve told ‘em!

Pay as much attention to your beginning and ending as you do to the middle themes. Use signposts (headings) throughout.

1. Introduction/Head
Begin with a bang, if you can – or with some particularly interesting aspect of your subject. Avoid beginning with a question – it may get an unexpected answer!

Let your audience know as early as possible what you are going to talk to them about. You should give signposts to the themes you intend to cover in the middle. Also you should indicate how long you will take, and whether you will be using visual aids or handing out notes.

2. Middle/Meat
Throughout your talk, give signposts, i.e. let the audience know when you’ve finished with one theme and are moving on to another. The sequence of ideas within a theme should be logical, of course. After each theme, it may well be appropriate to deal with any questions.

3. Ending/Tail
The ending can take the form of summing up (not a repetition of your whole presentation) or may be merely a net rounding off of the talk. Make it clear to the audience that you have reached the end – don’t just peter out in an apologetic anticlimax. Remind the audience briefly of the signposts you have used. Finally, thank them for listening.


“He rose without a friend and sat down without an enemy”
Henry Gratten
1. Head
Begin with a Bang!

Presentations are like drilling for oil. If you don’t strike within 30 seconds, stop boring and sit down.

It is very important that in the opening seconds of your presentation you achieve three things:-

• Establish your authority – Answer the question “Why me?”
• Tell the audience what you’re going to tell them and why
• Arouse their interest and curiosity

You therefore need a SAFE but PUNCHY start (remember the “5th speaker of the day” syndrome) which funnels your audience towards your aim.

Here is a formula that will enable you to achieve all three objectives.

Greet “Good morning/afternoon…”

Identify “My name is….”

Qualify “I work as ….”

Arouse Interest “Have you hear the story about …” Pause
And Curiosity

Topic and Aim “I am going to talk to you today about….
so that or in order to”

Agenda “First I will talk about .. then.. and finish….”

How long “My presentation will last …”

Use of Visuals “I shall be using OHP/slides/laptop to demonstrate major

Questions “I shall be pleased to take any questions at the end”

Signpost to “First we will address ….”
First Topic
Structure of any Talk

2. Meat

• Use signposts, they are your headings to keep the audience in the picture.

• Keep linking your points.

• Tell your audience as you approach new points so they know you are changing direction.

• Link the points to the plan you gave in the introduction.

Making Your Points

• State your point clearly and then illustrate it. Use anecdotes or analogies.

• Be sure that the illustration does not over-shadow the main point.

• Use comparisons that catch the imagination, or sense of humour.

• Use examples and illustrations that your audience can identify with and relate to; think of their special interests and knowledge.

• Use word pictures. Make visual comparisons, similes and metaphors.

• Try not to make a point that you intend to refute late, in case you are interrupted and fail to complete the argument.

• Try to avoid lists of acts/figures/names etc. unless you can show them on a visual aid.

• If you are going to speak for more than 10-15 minutes prepare some visual aids.

“Always assume your audience has maximum intelligence and minimum information. Don’t take facts for granted and don’t patronize”

Sir Huw Weldon

Structure of any Talk

3. Tail

• Make sure everyone knows you’ve got to the end.

• Draw something definite out of your presentation – conclude, recommend, sum up, look to the future, suggest the next step, etc. Focus on the result you want.

• Summarise what you have already said.

• End on a high positive note, perhaps using humour.

• Thank the audience.

“A speech is like a love affair – any fool can start one but to end one takes considerable skill”

Lord Mancroft

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