How to Organize Your Presentation

The key elements of a great presentation

Your verbal message is the core of your presentation. Whether your presentation is long or short, it should still follow some basic rules, which have been passed down through the ages:

  1. Tell your audience what you’re going to say.
  2. Say it.
  3. Tell them what you have said.

Based on the above, all presentations can be divided into three parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Transition statements and transition words can be used to maintain flow.


The way you begin determines how your audience will respond throughout your presentation. First impressions are important, so make sure you follow the guidelines below to make a strong start. Your introduction should consist of three parts; the grabber, the thesis, and the overview.

THE GRABBER consists of your introductory remarks, which set the tone for what is to follow. One purpose of the grabber is to gain audience attention and create positive expectations about the presentation. A second objective is to establish rapport with the audience and assist in overcoming barriers between the speaker and the audience. A third objective is to wake up the sleepy members of your audience, especially if your presentation is scheduled right after lunch!

THE THESIS is a statement of purpose for the presentation. This is where you present your position to the audience. You explain how the audience will benefit from the information, thereby providing the audience with a reason to listen.

THE OVERVIEW indicates the main points which you will discuss in developing your thesis.The purpose is to show the audience what to expect so they can prepare to listen. This is especially important for global learners in the audience, who need to have a clear idea of the big picture before listening to the step-by-step details.


The body is the core of the presentation, where you develop the thesis. This is where most of the information will be covered. The number of main points should be limited depending on the length of the presentation. Offering people too much information only makes them tune out. Provide sufficient information to support your thesis without repeating yourself or going into too much detail. Provide stories, case studies, and examples whenever applicable. They provide an energizing break and enable the listener to grasp abstract concepts more easily. Use short script-like phrases to write the points of your talk. They will be easier for your listeners to understand than long, complicated sentences. Use examples and stories from your own life, career, or industry to sound and feel more authentic. Remember to speak at the level of your audience in terms of subject knowledge as well as language fluency. Whenever possible, keep your audience involved by asking for a show of hands.


THE REVIEW reinforces and summarizes the message. This is the part of the presentation when you can choose what was most important and what you would like audience members to remember. Choose three main concepts, ideas, or principles at the most.

THE CALL TO ACTION is the impetus to use the information presented. This is where you tell the listeners what you would like them to do after attending your presentation. This section crystallizes the entire purpose of the presentation.

THE CONCLUDING GRABBER signals the end of the presentation. The purpose is to create a memorable impression before your audience disperses. This short message may be what attendees describe or report to others on their cellphones as soon as they have finished attending your presentation. It’s your last chance to leave a powerful impression. By connecting your concluding grabber to your original grabber, you are able to neatly frame your entire presentation.