Presentation Ideas: Do I really need my presentation agenda?

"Good morning everyone. My name is Richard Lock, owner of www.speakingandpresenting.com, and this morning I would like to share with you my thoughts on presentation agendas. First we will explore what makes a good presentation agenda, then what are the benefits they offer and finally what are the risks?"

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It doesn't matter how many business presentations you have sat (or slept) through, the chances are many of them have started in a similar fashion to my opener above. "What's wrong with that" I hear you cry. Well "nothing" might be my response. Many a presenter will use this format as an opener for their presentation and it is OK. It follows common courtesy's and is probably exactly what the audience is expecting. Yet that is also its problem. At best it is OK, but most likely it is neutral or boring. It is certainly not grabbing the attention of your audience. More on presentation ideas to grab audience attention will follow shortly. For now let's think about the agenda.

In my experience, working with business presenters from many countries and business sectors, I find that a slide containing the presentation agenda is nearly always present. When I ask why, the typical response is 'that's what we always do'. When challenged to consider what value the presentation agenda is adding the answers are less clear and more interesting.

Many of us are aware of the old adage 'tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you just told them'. We see this principle reflected in news bulletins across the globe in the form of headlines - stories - headline summary. Unfortunately, in many business presentations this can be reinterpreted as 'tell them how you are going to bore them, bore them, tell them how you just bored them. Why? Because the presentation agenda's are not written in the form of attention grabbing headlines, they are just typically just a simple list of topic descriptors that set the scene for the dull style and content of a presentation devoid of good presentation ideas.

As a presenter, you main task is to engage your audience with your key messages. So ask yourself - "what value is an agenda adding?" If it is simply habit - think again. If the boss insists on it, my advice is always avoid decisions that might be career terminal, however think about putting your agenda points in a headline format that at least generates more interest and sets you apart as a presenter.

Better still, consider dropping the agenda all together. Stand up comedians are currently the new rock gods. Their hold their gigs in massive stadia that hold an audience of thousands. They captivate their audience, frequently with just themselves and a microphone. Have you ever heard a comedian come on stage and say " tonight I will start with a series of gags about business, followed by a section about families before ending with a selection of funny stories about sport.?"

Presentation agendas are not essential so use them wisely. There are many ways to captivate your audience and get your key messages received and understood.

Looking for more presentation ideas

How can I help?

Richard Lock: International trainer, speaker,and coach helping businesses and individuals learn the secrets of effective communication.

To find out more about workshops, self study options, 'live online' virtual classroom sessions , personal coaching or other blended learning approaches please get in touch.

See also:

Cause Related learning for employee engagement

RHL Associates for management development