Make your next presentation a spiral, not a line

Cycling through your main point helps your audience. Here’s how.

Make your next presentation a spiral, not a line
Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny / Unsplash

Find your main point: one thing you want people to remember. Begin the presentation by making your main point as quickly and plainly as you can.

Then, state the main point again. Elaborate on it this time, with a little more context. Give the two most relevant examples you can.

Next, revisit the main point. Explain how it is applicable or meaningful to your audience, based on the elaboration you just did and your understanding of their situation. This is where you can get ultra specific and pile on the details. Nerd out. This works because you’ve built little gathering places into your presentation. When people get distracted or you do a shitty job explaining something, some of your audience’s attention will wander. That’s OK. Each reiteration of your main point is an opportunity for people to get back on board. It is a starting point everyone will be familiar with—since it’s your main point.

Finally, revisit the main point. Remind everyone what the main point is, and what it means for them.

Conclude with a quote or a story that emphasizes the main point.

Having a hard time organizing a talk? Plan it backwards.

  1. Think of how it will end: the capacities, agreement, and energy your audience will have. That’s your ending.
  2. Strip away some detail, and slot that before the ending.
  3. Strip all but the main idea, and that’s your opening.