Main Body: Systematically Reaching The Crux of the Presentation

The main body is where the topic of the presentation is developed in detail. Imagine you’re attending a talk. What are you expecting of it? You’ll no doubt first be wondering what the presenter wants to tell you, and whether you’ll agree with them. This lays the ideal foundation for the creator to organize their presentation. To make the talk interesting and easy to follow, they need to try and enter into a subconscious question & answer dialog with the audience, guiding them through very systematically. Failure to do this will leave listeners wondering what the presenter actually wants to say, and very likely responding with disinterest.



As a presentation’s creator, you have two options: To mention the core message either at the start or end. If you mention it very early on (pyramidal structure), listeners will automatically wonder how you got there or what exactly you mean by it. This prompts the question & answer dialog, enabling you to systematically lead them through the process. As such, it is easier to attract listeners’ attention and ensure they understand your line of thought.



If, on the other hand, you mention the answer at the end (funnel structure), it is more difficult to maintain the question & answer dialog from start to finish. And if you mention it at the very end, listeners will still wonder whether it can be accepted as such. They are forced to revisit all previous statements, and assess whether they do indeed support the core message. This version consequently tends not to be overly advantageous for presentations.


But there are still cases where it is best to leave the core message until the end, e.g. when a topic has already been very controversial beforehand or is emotionally charged. The risk here is that the audience may descend into out-of-control discussions if the delicate core message is mentioned at the start of the presentation. In these instances, it is more advisable to end the introduction with a question, and then make consecutive statements which ultimately lead to the conclusion (core message).

Both alternatives are explored using two examples. Example 1 follows a pyramidal structure, and example 2 a funnel structure. Either option is possible. The pyramidal structure is highly regarded in a professional environment and at a top-management level, and hence continues to prevail.

Example: Pyramidal presentation structure Example: Funnel-shaped presentation structure

Presentation news

Receive presentation tips once per quarter? Subscribe here.