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Structuring a presentation

People often believe that structuring a presentation is a simple process because everything has been thought of. However, points out Asha Kaul, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, in her book The Effective Presentation, thinking begins after people collate all the material. The planning stage is the first stage and this involves collating material and information. Structuring is the second stage and this requires understanding and thinking.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2006 18:56 IST
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People often believe that structuring a presentation is a simple process because everything has been thought of. However, points out Asha Kaul, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, in her book The Effective Presentation, thinking begins after people collate all the material. The planning stage is the first stage and this involves collating material and information. Structuring is the second stage and this requires understanding and thinking.

Adherence to the seven Cs, says Professor Kaul, is the initial step in structuring your presentation.
1Credibility

2Context

3Content

4Clarity

5Channels

6Consistency

7Capability of the audience

The first C relates to your credibility as a presenter. Will the audience accept what you say because of your expertise or will they question your assumptions? You should be clear about this aspect especially if you want to make a technical presentation. Position and authority are two factors that help you gain credibility with the audience. However, suppose you are not in an enviable position, you can develop a content-rich presentation by following the six Cs and gain credibility. The second C relates to the reason for making the presentation.

Try to understand the audience, its expectations and the context in which you make the presentation. You should be aware of the implications of your presentation as well as the recommendation you make.

The third C relates to the matter of the presentation. Are you thorough with the content of your presentation? Have you done enough research?

You need more than oratory skills to be a successful presenter. If you are uncertain about the content, the presentation will seem superficial. On the other hand, if your presentation is content-heavy, the audience will find it difficult to understand. So you need to strike a balance.

The fourth C relates to clarity in your thoughts and clarity about the matter you will present. If you are clear about what you need to present, your presentation will follow a clear structure. You should not jump from one point to the other or bring in unrelated facts because this will make the audience feel that they have lost touch with the content of your presentation.

The fifth C relates to audio, visual or multimedia channel for your presentation. The criterion for selecting a channel depends on the channel that is appropriate for your audience. If you can use multimedia, you can use your creative
capabilities.

The sixth C relates to the focus in your approach. Do you consistently follow a story line? It is simple for the audience to understand the content of your presentation if you adopt a consistent approach. If you are clear about what you want to say, you will be consistent in your approach. Then you can identify links in your matter and can present it consistently.

The seventh C refers to your assessment of the audience. You should not under- or over-estimate the capability of the audience. If you under-estimate their level of knowledge, they will be bored with the presentation. If you over-estimate their knowledge and use technical jargon, you will not be able to connect with your audience.

If you keep the seven Cs in mind when structuring your presentation, you can make a good presentation.

First Published: Oct 24, 2006 18:56 IST