6 – Crafting the Body of the Presentation

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This is the heart of the matter. Presenting convincing arguments to the audience so that they will take the action you want them to.

Crafting the Main Body

There are several ways of assembling the information for the main body. I like to use a combination of the “journalistic six” together with  mind mapping.

The Journalistic Six

Journalism students are trained to answer these questions somewhere in their news article – it is also a good  process for establishing whether there are any other facts that need to be stated and provides a number of angles from which to view the story. These are a few examples of the thinking process.

1. Who?

  • Who dunnit
  • Who is involved at all levels – decision makers, users, technical people
  • Who will benefit
  • Who will not

Don’t say things like” a team investigated the process” – who were the people in the team?

2. What?

  • What happened
  • What should have happened
  • What process, equipment, procedures were used?

3. When?

  • When did it happen
  • When should it be implemented
  • When will we know the result

4. Where?

  • Location of event
  • Future locations to be considered

5. Why?

  • Why did the event occur
  • Why were the people there
  • Why can also be useful in drilling down into root causes as in:

The building collapsed in the windstorm.
Why?
Because the foundations were weakened
Why?
Because of the ingress of water.
Why?
Because the flashing was inadequate.
Why?
Because the builders didn’t fit it correctly.
Why?
Because they were not trade qualified.

So, the building collapsed because the builders were not trade qualified.

6. How?

  • How was it done
  • How could it have been avioded
  • How could processes be improved
  • How did the events unfold

Addition to the Journalistic Six

As well as the above, once you’ve established a fact, ask youself “so what?” as many times as you need to establish the importance of the fact, or whether it is indeed relevant. Just because it’s a fact doesn’t mean it’s important.

Mindmapping

These is a simple technique. You can see from this series of posts that I have used a mind map to outline what is needed in a presentation. A mind map is a central topic with radiating sub-topics down to an appropriate level. It assists in non-linear thinking, which is the way the brain seems to operate and adds to your creative output. You can find out more here and I like to use the free mind mapping software XMIND

Structures

When you present your main points here are some ways to structure them:

  • Importance (least important to most)
  • Chronology
  • Cost/size
  • Location
  • Type
  • Thirds – Advantages,  Disadvantages Summary

In creating the body of points you wish to make you follow a simple pattern of using a compelling introduction, make the points, segue between them and finally segue to the conclusion of your presentation.

Segue to Outro

A simple statement should be OK.

You’ve now seen how this impacts on the proposal.

Compelling evidence, isn’t it?

Difficult questions

Nobody can be expected to know everything. From time to time you’ll be thrown questions you can’t answer.The best answer I’ve heard for a curly question was:

As yet I haven’t accumulated a sufficient database on which to make an assessment.

what he really meant was’ “I don’t know”.

Some techniques for handling these are:

  • Don’t allow hypothetical questions. You could say something like “please ask questions during my presentation, and for the sake of the group, could you please keep them to real-life situations”.  This will keep the discussion relevant.
  • Repeat the question to give yourself time to think of a response. “That’s an interesting question, does the widget change thermodynamic properties under extreme load?”
  • Throw it back to the group. “Tom’s raised an interesting point. Does anyone have  experience in this?” Or you can use a variation – call for an expert. “Mary, you’ve been in the technical department a long time, what do you think?”
  • If you genuinely don’t know the answer, don’t bluff, just admit it. “That’s an interesting question, and I really need to check the answer. I’ll get back to you after the break”. Then write the question down and make sure you get back to the person asking the question at the time you said you would.

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