Does my presentation need an agenda?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
A somewhat vehement start. But we’re vehement advocates with a clear stance. And there are three main reasons for this vehemence.
No orientation, no attention
That’s how humans are. No matter who they are, or what situation they’re in. They need certainty, orientation and information. What am I getting myself into here? How long will it take? What is it about? Who is the person standing there, why are they allowed to tell me something, and why should I trust them? Is this going to be something I should even be spending time on? And in the back of their mind or deep in their gut, their subconscious is worrying about things such as what happens if they need to go to the bathroom, whether there is something to drink, or whether they will make it to their next meeting. People need to be engaged. Consciously or subconsciously. And only then can they give you their full attention.
No respect, no attention
Your audience is full of people who are busy. With tasks, projects, perhaps deadlines or urgently needed clarifications. People who are giving you a set amount of time. Right from the outset, they want to feel they’re getting a good return on their investment. Make them feel from the very beginning that you understand, and that you respect them and their time. Convey a good feeling to them that resonates with them right there and then. Your agenda should be laid out in such a way that it uses images, language, terminology or corporate jargon to list the objectives that connect with your audience’s hearts and minds.
No excitement, no attention.
The purpose of an agenda also is to establish curiosity and expectation. So we’re not talking about standard headings such as
- Situation analysis
- Next steps
While an agenda like the one above may be correct, it will create boredom barriers from the very start of your presentation, which are then very difficult to overcome.
Pulling the rabbit out of the hat.
Here are two examples from a sales context to serve as inspiration.
From a customer presentation given by a local software provider:
What’s in store for you today: 15 minutes of exciting insights into efficient management. Everything you need in order to
- Keep your IT management flowing smoothly
- Make your IT even more secure
- Optimize processes
- Keep budgets under control
- Inspire staff and citizens
A beauty company’s B2B presentation:
15 minutes that go more than skin-deep…
- How to inspire your customers with well executed beauty products and services
- Why trust is so important today when choosing your partner
- What research and innovation mean for your success
- How quality makes you credible
- How to attract and retain customers
- How the principle of awareness sets you apart
Objective, target group, logical flow and structure are the basis of any agenda. Then you can start thinking about providing orientation, conveying respect, resonating with your audience, and offering exciting prospects. If you do this, very little can actually go wrong.