← IC Matters · Best Practice

The Most Persuasive Presentation Structure… Ever

Simon MortonSimon Morton·

I have a long-held belief about presentations – they should all compel an audience into action. After all, if your presentation doesn’t prompt an action, what was the point of delivering it in the first place?

This (admittedly single-minded view) is the case for all manner of presentations, from internal to sales to conferences.

In the absence of an action, there’s a very big chance that you’re wasting your time and that of your audience.

This obsession with action-based presentations burned bright when writing my book. As part of the research, I studied a number of proven but very different persuasive presentation structures to see how they worked and their impacts on different audience types.

The net result was the creation of a presentation structure called the Audience Pathway Model. The clue is in the title – this is a persuasive structure that puts the audience at the very core of the presentation.

It’s built around a four-act story, each of which is designed to flow very easily into each other, while also providing the presenter flexibility to spend more time in certain areas in line with the audience’s requirements.

The first act, Establish, is designed to grab the attention of the audience and establish a single area of focus. It provides a wonderful opportunity to spark discussion within an audience which is something that should be savored by the presenter.

After all, if you’re going to make a presentation persuasive, it needs to spark debate and engagement from your audience.

Once you’ve got your audience on the same page, you can start sharing information as part of the second phase of the process, Engage.

This is where you share information about your product, your projects, your solution…whatever it may be.

As with all presentations, this needs to be concise and pithy content, that is there supporting your message, not merely the opportunity to roll out the same old stuff that people have been bored with for many years previously.

Once you’ve ‘Engaged’ your audience, then you need to allow them to process that information through the Evaluate phase. This may be by sharing case studies, testimonials or examples of how your content, delivered in the Engage phase, has had an impact on other audiences.

Done well, the Evaluate phase is incredibly powerful by putting your message into context. In turn, it demonstrates credibility, provides comfort and builds confidence within your audience.

And then finally, in line with my obsession with prompting audiences to do something differently at the conclusion of a presentation – the Act phase.

This may be in the form of a summary followed by confirmation of the next steps in your process or agreeing actions from your audience.

Eyeful’s Audience Pathway Model simultaneously addresses a number of the challenges people feel when they’re creating presentations. Not only does it chunk information down into short, pithy acts, but probably more importantly, delivers the information in the most persuasive order.

By putting the audience at the core of the story, information is delivered in a powerful, engaging and relevant manner.

As a side note here, it is worth noting that simply because we are talking of presentations does not mean that we necessarily have to immediately reach for the PowerPoint icon on your PC.

The Audience Pathway Model is used to great effect in other presentation formats. From using a napkin upon which to doodle certain visuals on, forming the backbone of a compelling video through to Augmented Reality presentations.

So, in conclusion (and by way of an action!), take time to look at your current presentations through a new lens and ask yourself one simple question – how persuasive is it?

Could employing the Audience Pathway Model help ensure you and your audiences get the right return on investment from your next presentation?

For more information on the Audience Pathway Model, check out the book ‘The Presentation Lab’, available online and in print form in 6 languages.


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