8 – Developing a Theme for Your Presentation


Difference Between Subject and Theme

– Subject

The subject of your presentation should be fairly straightforward to define. It could be something like:

  • sell widget solution to Aardvark Enterprises
  • say no to the Traveston Dam
  • an analysis of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 2

It is the broad general topic you are speaking about and should be known to the audience beforehand. Just because you have a subject or topic doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation will stand out.

– Theme

A  theme is a single idea; a continuous thread or recurring segue. It should be short, simple and memorable, up to to ten words that you repeat, repeat, repeat throughout your presentation.  It is the angle or direction of your presentation, the glue that holds it together. The theme is the one message you want the audience to take back with them. Much like theme music in movies. Very few people can hear the theme from The Godfather without being transported into the narrative.

Returning to the subjects here are some hypothetical themes:

  • sell widget solution to Aardvark Enterprises – Theme ” Our widgets never fail”
  • say no to the Traveston Dam –  Theme “Better alternatives are available”
  • an analysis of Tchaikovsky’s symphony No 2 – Theme “Russian folk songs dictating symphonic form”

A good place to use the theme is at the beginning  of the presentation, the start or end of  each  of each major point, and  the conclusion.

Questions you can ask  to discover your theme are:

What is the compelling benefit of my product, service or solution?

95% of the time we will fix your problems before you even know you have them.

What is the major effect of the problem I am presenting?

$300 billion will be spent on illegal drugs today

You can also use the “journalistic six” to develop your theme.

Good advice is not to have more than one theme – it will confuse the audience.

If you don’t have a stated theme, the audience may  ask themselves, “what was that about?”

Download Theme WorkSheet

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