How to Structure a Presentation to ENAGAGE your Audience

When we present, we want our audience to listen, understand and learn, and leave knowing more than when they arrived. We need to guide them through our presentation, so they don’t feel lost or confused – this is why it’s so important that your presentation has a clear and effective structure.

The 3 key elements

An effective presentation needs an introduction, main body and a conclusion. Let’s consider each of them in more detail:

1) Introduction

At the beginning of a presentation, both the presenter and the audience are nervous! However, a good start can work wonders, so the first thing you need is an effective INTRO:

Get the audience interested right from the start! Begin by showing an amazing picture or short video, or sharing an interesting fact or anecdote: “Did you know that last year, in the UK alone…”

Point out that they need to know what you’re about to tell them – your presentation will enable them to do this, or give them the following skills…

Tell them about the timings and how they can respond to your presentation, i.e. state your question policy: “This presentation will last for about half an hour and I’ll be answering any questions you may have at the end”.

Then, clarify your objective: “I’m here today to bring you all up to speed redevelopments in…”

Photo Of Man Sitting In Front

2) Main Body

This will be the largest part of your presentation. There are various options here for ensuring a smooth presentation flow. If you’re telling a story, e.g. the history of the company, then chronological order is the way to go. If there are several sub-topics, give them equal billing and cover each one in a logical order.

3) Conclusion

Finally, your conclusion should provide an effective recap of the key points. If your presentation is a proposal, you will add your recommendations here regarding a course of action supported by the information presented.

Primacy & Recency

Another reason for creating a structure like this is the concept of primacy and recency. It’s all about the human memory (for example think about the last film you saw) – we can remember the beginning (primacy), and we’re good at recalling the end (recency), but our memories of the middle part are rather hazy! So, to reinforce the main body, in the introduction we tell ‘em what we’re going to tell ‘em, in the main body we tell ‘em, and in the conclusion we tell ‘em what we just told ‘em!


When planning a presentation, some people write out a Hollywood-style script. Please remember to use spoken language, not written language, because you are going to be saying it! The language needs to be easy for the audience to understand and relate to, otherwise they will keep asking you to repeat yourself because they didn’t get it the first time!


Signposting helps you move through your presentation, making a smooth transition from one topic to the next. For example, you could begin with a rhetorical question: “So, what happened in 2010? Well, this was when…” To signpost the end of your presentation, you simply say “to conclude” or “in summary”, letting the audience know that you’re about to finish. Also, if you’re using PowerPoint slides, the titles at the top of your slides act as signposts – the audience will know what’s coming next.


To be properly structured your presentation needs an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you just told ‘em! When preparing content, use spoken not written language, and use signposts to guide the audience through the presentation.

A good structure can make all the difference. Happy presenting!

Case Study: Leadership Development Training at STL

Organisational Profiles

As part of our Public Schedule portfolio, STL offers leadership development to a range of organisations, from the leading brand in healthy drinks to one of the best-known luxury hotel chains.

Despite the different settings and company cultures, what they all have in common is that they have identified a ‘leadership profile’. Namely employees who are progressing into more challenging roles, be that as a team leader, project or people management roles, and who all require up-skilling to grow into their existing or forthcoming roles.


Their HR/Learning and Development departments choose this particular course because they are, amongst other things, looking for the following benefits:

  • Identifying the skills and qualities that make a good leader, and how that differentiates from simply ‘managing’
  • Key strategies and tools to discover and utilise their employee’s leadership strengths
  • How finding a balanced leadership focus can improve productivity, team motivation and cohesion
  • A deep understanding of team dynamics and how to improve relations via coaching, mentoring, social events and offering feedback, amongst other areas
  • Performance Management; assessing and developing individual effectiveness by examining communication skills, rapport-building, time management, setting appropriate boundaries and developing natural assertiveness
  • Becoming an effective task leader by setting goals that are measurable, realistic and achievable, leading the planning process and maintaining control of the team.

We draw on cutting edge material at the forefront of leadership development to accomplish this, including the following principles:

  • Being guided by the Future you want and staying focused on your vision
  • Engaging others in productive and stimulating working relationships that make things happen
  • Delivering the results you need to really move your business forward
Learning Deliverables for Leaders

All taken from the excellent ‘Leadership Plain and Simple book by Steve Radcliffe (UK) and the newest research by Dr Sunnie Giles, who stresses the importance of making employees feel safe as a key leadership quality, rather than the more fluffy and ill-defined ‘being charismatic’ that we’re so used to seeing in standard leadership material.

These form a powerful backbone to the course, which in addition to our proprietary materials make for some very engaging discussions amongst the group. One of the biggest benefits of course, is precisely this – the fact that we have a number of delegates from different industries all openly sharing their thoughts, hopes, experiences and challenges around current corporate leadership.

As best-practice and problem-solving meshes with our materials, you can see light-bulb moments happening as delegates re-frame their current experiences with this new information and clearly see how they can put this into action to increase productivity throughout their areas of the business.

One of the areas that comes up time and time again is the need to be assertive and push back before they burn out. We now include that in our Leadership course as standard, and role-play scenarios to help emerging leaders become more resilient.

As the trainer, it’s always gratifying to facilitate Leadership development. As Forbes so accurately says “With an estimated $166 billion annual spend on leadership development in the USA alone, organisations must transform these mission-critical programs to create real and lasting impact.”

And that’s our key focus. With 80% of this course being practical, delegates emerge with a newfound confidence in their skills and often form lasting connections with their peers on these types of high-level courses.


Our feedback has been excellent across the board with delegates saying;

“We received loads of practical advice, discussed examples, practised role-playing and delivering and receiving feedback/advice from the trainer. Thank you!”

“Alison is really an excellent trainer. Lots of experience, full of positive energy and pays so much attention to each of the members. I am totally impressed. Today I learnt not only communication skills but lots more. I see how much she engaged with the training preparation and how quickly she can react to our questions. She is very professional, it’s so nice to experience such a high level of presentation skill! Thank you so much!”


As a training team, developing our future leaders is something that we are passionate about. This is one of our most popular courses, and rightly so. There are very real skills-gaps at a corporate level that urgently need filling, and the range of material offered by this course afford us real scope to over-deliver for our clients.

Learn more about our Leadership Development course or our full range of leadership skills training on our website.