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Is this you?

· When you put a presentation together it’s hard to find a starting point?
· You need a sure-fire way to write compelling content?
· You’ve written lots of presentations in the past but feel a little bored with your approach?

Welcome to the first of two VIDEOS designed to share top tips on presenting.

In this first VIDEO I’m focussing on Banishing the Blank. You know that feeling of a blank mind and a blank screen as you prepare to write your presentation.

The second VIDEO, is called Stand and Deliver Your Best Presentation Ever, written to share how to increase your delivery impact and gravitas.


Let’s get that fundamental question out of the way.

·What is the point of your presentation?
·Is it to inform only?
·Is it to start a discussion?
·Is it to help provide data for a decision?
·Is it to move people to action?

If the purpose of your presentation is to inform only then is a presentation the best way of doing that?

Generally, when presenting you will want to inspire people to take action through delivering a compelling message that plugs into how individuals like to be influenced. If that’s the reason behind your presentation go for it. But, if your presentation is to inform only then think through cost/benefit/impact. Would a well written and illustrated paper have more impact and serve the audience better?

OK, you’ve decided it’s going to be a fabulous well written presentation that is going to work best. Let’s go…


Because a blank piece of paper can be daunting the race to a great presentation starts at the winning line not the start line.

·If I deliver a great presentation what will happen next?
·How will I know?
·What are my success measures?
·What do I want my audience to think, feel, do?
·How do I want to feel?
·What are the three top messages I want the audience to leave with?
·What do I want my audience to do?
·What is my call to action going to be?

Getting this established will enable you to write a very clear presentation objective that might sound something like this:

By the end of my presentation my audience will………(You fill in the gaps here and make the objective as specific and measurable as you can.)

Here is an example for a presentation I shall be giving soon;

‘By the end of my presentation my audience will be ready to donate to, or volunteer to help launch our new social enterprise.’


To get going find some wall or whiteboard space – you will be using post its and sticking up paper. Many people find moving away from the PC screen helps with getting creative.

The process works like this…

·Write up and display your key objective: keep your objective directly in your line of sight to keep your thinking flowing and focussed.

·Punch it out with Post its: I like this bit. Get a pack of post its and without evaluating write up all the ideas you have for content that might deliver the
outcome you are looking for. One idea per post it. Stick them up in no particular order.

·Its quantity not quality: You are not evaluating your ideas at this stage so you should be able to get into a constant stream of thinking. When you are in the ideas flow stage this is the time you are likely to get a spark of inspiration. It’s worth knowing that emptying your mind of tried and tested thoughts leaves space for new ones to develop. It’s all part of the creative process.

I like to think of the idea generation stage being like a roman candle firework. You light it and think it’s a dud because nothing happens. Then a few balls of coloured light fly into the sky and you think – is that it? Then there is a sort of crescendo of sparkle and it’s pretty cool.

Then… just as you are ready to turn away because the firework is burnt out a stunning sparkle sizzles the night sky. Same with ideas. The first ideas you generate may be familiar thinking, but they help you get you into your flow. Then there might be a gap as your conscious thoughts have been downloaded then, just when you are not expecting it, your nugget of an idea comes forward into your consciousness.

·Must, should, could:great now you have a bunch of post its. Time now to get a large piece of paper and draw a target with three rings. The centre of the target is titled Must. The next ring is titled Should and the outer ring is titled Could. Now take your mass of post its and sort them into the rings looking at how their inclusion will support your end objective. The musts, must of course be included and the shoulds will be nice to have if there is the time. Let go of the coulds even if you feel you are murdering your darlings!

·The common ground: As you sort the ideas ask yourself, will this be new to the audience? People don’t mind hearing familiar information, but it is important to take people from what they already know to something they don’t. They will then have the feeling they have moved on as a result of listening to you. This gets tricky if you are rehashing corporate messages like strategy and values. If that is the case then you must think about how to refresh them in a compelling intriguing way.

More on that in future blogs.

·Creating the structure: great, now you have the must include data sorted it’s time to think about the construction of the presentation. Beginning, Middle and End. Or as the old saying goes, tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you have told them. It goes like this:

Opening statement – allocate a little over 5 percent of the overall time allocated to this part of the presentation. Your opening will include the objective of the presentation, the WIFM factor – ie ‘what’s in it for me’ for the individual audience members who are listening and possibly an indication of the ask you are going to make. You can personalise the presentation to individuals in the audience by quickly referencing what they may already know. I love the saying move them from the known to the unknown. This can be a shared joke or the soothing familiarity of being in the tribe who are in the know.

Hook ‘em in: The opening of your presentation is the place for the Hook. The hook is a compelling, startling’ little known fact, or maybe something funny, or topical, or a fabulous visual. It is important that it supports the essence of the presentation. You can think of it as an icebreaker designed to pique curiosity.

Build a great body: now you are ready to move into the main body of the presentation script. Think about how many points will truly support your intentions. More than five and key messages may get lost. So, grab the Musts from the target information you prepared earlier and think about the sequencing of the ideas. I like to work from general to particular or concept to detail.
Ask yourself whether your main points lend themselves to this sort of sequencing? Then for each of the points, ask what is the compelling point of interest? What do you want your audience to think and feel?

End with a Bang: You have now written a compelling presentation and the challenge is how to finish on a high. We have all watched presentations that seem
to fizzle out on a low so let’s not fall into that trap with yours. Here is where you tell em what you told em. Ask yourself:
·How can I keep the pace up and the audience moved to action?
·How am I going to make it easy for the audience to take that action?
·What are my next steps?
·How do I spell out what the next steps are for the audience?


So, part of your presentation preparation is to rehearse what might come up at question stage. Go back to who your audience are. Put on their shoes and generate the questions they are likely to ask. Then decide whether you should put the answers to the most likely questions into your presentation or whether the points land more strongly if handled at question stage? This is the stage of planning that can benefit from bringing a friend in to help you generate the questions and to give you feedback on your planned answers.

Prepare to get graphical!


Picture the scene. Instead of a PowerPoint presentation, your whole presentation story visuals are drawn out on large scale paper, live, as you deliver! This is a true wow for the audience who will love to see your content come to life in memorable drawings as you speak. The contributors to the question and answer segment will also be delighted to see their contributions captured.

For those special presentations where you want to increase your impact and the retention of your key points I would be delighted to explore with you how to do that!


If your presentation is about change, project comms, vision, values, strategy or a journey of some kind and it’s important that people emotionally engage with, and retain the content, let’s talk through how Drawn to Learn can support you in this exciting novel way. I can also offer coaching on the design of your presentation and for how to increase your impact and gravitas.


Jackie Forbes is the Principal of Drawn to Learn and an established facilitator. In her long career in corporate development she has trained hundreds of leaders and managers to step up the impact and influencing power of their presentations.

Her international career has led her to design and deliver workshops and development programmes within numerous well-known companies and organisations. As a skilled practitioner in traditional facilitation and Graphic Facilitation she specialises in designing and delivering sessions that transform performance.


I’d like to offer you a free 30 minute Discovery Call to help bring your next event to life with Graphic Facilitation. Click the link here to book a date and time that suits us both.

Click here to review a sample of my portfolio of drawings.

Contact: or phone (00 44) 07961 134 741

Our Services: Click the link here

Drawn to Learn has an overflowing toolkit, including learning and development programmes, team development, facilitation solutions and visual practices. Jackie is a member of the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP)

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