Five steps to make an informative presentation memorable and engaging


Do you ever feel that you are overwhelming your audience with too much information? Do you feel like you are not connecting with you audience? Would you like your presentation to be more memorable and engaging?

In this article, I will share five steps that will make your informative presentation memorable and engaging. A client of mine indicated that this structure I suggested for her talk gave her the confidence she needed to make her talk as effective, entertaining, and memorable as possible.

Why steps
Many people picture a linear organization for their presentation: introduction, body, then conclusion. You may have heard people recommend that you say what you are going to say, say it, and then say what you said. That is fine but not memorable.

I have reorganized this linear process into five steps. To me, you move up as you move through your speech. Step 5 is the pinnacle, the height of memorability and connection between you as the presenter and your audience.

The Five Steps
If you create your informative presentation using these five steps, your presentation will be much more memorable and engaging.

1. Start with a challenging story
As Stephen Denning says in his book The Secret Language of Leadership, the most important thing to do at the beginning of a presentation is to get the audience’s attention. He recommends a number of effective tools, including starting with a challenging story. I discuss five of the tools in my article “Five ways to start your presentations and the one I recommend for my clients”.

A challenging story is a negative story with a pain point that relates to the purpose of your presentation. To learn more about challenging stories, check out my article called “What is a challenging story and why you need one to start your presentation?

2. Follow that with a springboard story
Continuing with the method in Stephen Denning’s book referred to above, the next thing you need to do is to stimulate the audience’s desire to learn more. Again Denning shares several methods, the one I help my clients with is to craft a springboard story.

A springboard story is a minimalist, positive story. The idea is to have your audience listening to your story while imagining themselves having the same positive experience. To learn more about springboard stories, check out my article called “What is a springboard story and why you need one in your informative presentation?

3. Outline
Next comes the outline of your presentation. It is important for your audience to know how long you expect it to talk and to have a high-level outline so they have a sense of where you are at as you are speaking.

I recommend that my clients do this in a single sentence in the following format:

In the next ____ minutes, [I will cover] OR [you will learn] these three things: _____, _____ and ______.

4. Information in 3 big buckets
Next comes the facts or information that you are there to share. This will be by far the longest part of your presentation

I recommend my clients divide their information into three big buckets. For longer presentations, one can subdivide those big buckets into smaller sub-buckets. People will remember three things in a way they are unlikely to remember four, five or more. Three sticks in a way that two does not.

When I do my free 30-minute webinar, my three big things are:

  • Five surprising facts
  • Brain science behind those facts
  • Three tools to transform your presentations

As you can tell from the titles, there are five facts in the first section and three tools in the final section.

5. Close
a. Final Q&A – During the closing portion of your presentation, you should include a final Q&A. In longer presentations, you will want a Q&A break after each major topic area. You should not end with a Q&A for several reasons. First, you want to control your ending and ensure your audience know what you want them to do. Second, if you get a question you can’t answer, you don’t want to be the last thing people remember is you saying “I don’t know”. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it is perfectly fine to say you don’t know and you will get back to them. Just better if that isn’t the final thing your audience hears.

b. Imagine sentence – Before your Call to Action, I recommend an Imagine Sentence. This would start with “Imagine if . . . “. My imagine statement starts “Imagine if every time you speak, your audience is completely engaged and feeling connected to you.“

c. Call to Action – During your close, you want to include a specific call to action. What exactly do you want your audience members to do, or think or believe? Whatever it is you should try to make sure it benefits them. Ideally, it should tie back to your challenging story from the beginning of your talk. I end by offering a free 45-minute Assessment of the Memorability of Your Presentation (my AMP Up Session).  People who have done it describe my AMP Up Session as Engaging, Insightful and Valuable. I tend to lead into it with something like “If you don’t want to be terrified and terrible as I was all those years ago at SFU, I am offering a free 45-minute AMP Up session. “

d. Game – Something you can add on at the end is a game. I end every presentation I do now with a game using a platform called Kahoot. Games are great because they are fun and they enhance learning, as long as the questions in the game relate to the content of your presentation.

Need help organizing your presentations
I hope you find this structure useful in preparing your next presentation. If you want help with crafting stories or with focusing your information into 3 big buckets, those are all things I help my clients with.

If you are interested in seeing how I use these five steps in a presentation, join me at one of my free 30-minute webinars entitled “Learn Five Surprising Facts to Transform Your Presentations”:
• Monday pm (Pacific time) –
• Thursday am (Pacific time) –