Does my presentation need an agenda?
Yes. Yes. And yes. We have good reason to be bold. An agenda affects the whole dynamic of presenting. It helps you keep on track while presenting, and it grabs your audience’s attention from the outset.
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. They wonder, what am I getting myself into here? How long will it take? What’s it about? Who’s 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 spend time on? In the back of their mind or deep in their gut, their subconscious is worrying about practical things: What happens if they need to go to the bathroom? Will there be something to drink? Will I make it on time for the next meeting? People need to be reassured and 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. Tasks, projects, deadlines, urgently needed clarifications – so many things fill their workdays. These people are giving you a set amount of time to hear your presentation. They want to feel they’re getting a good return on their investment. Make them feel that you understand and respect all these factors from the very beginning. Convey a good feeling that resonates with them there and then. Lay out your agenda using images, language, terminology, or corporate jargon to list objectives that connect with your audience’s hearts and minds.
No excitement, no attention
Another purpose of an agenda is to generate curiosity and anticipation. We’re not talking about standard headings such as
3. Situation analysis
6. Next steps
While an agenda like the one above isn’t wrong, it will create “boredom barriers” right from the start of your presentation. It’s hard to win back your audience’s interest from this point
Pulling the rabbit out of the hat
Two examples from a sales context that you can use as inspiration for your own agenda.
A customer presentation by a local software provider:
What’s in store for you today: 15 minutes of exciting insights into efficient management. Everything you need to:
- Keep your IT management running smoothly
- Keep IT assets even more secure
- Optimize your processes
- Keep budgets under control
- Inspire colleagues and local citizens
A beauty company’s B2B presentation:
15 minutes that go more than skin-deep …
- How to inspire your customers with holistic beauty products and services
- Why trust is so important today when choosing your business partners
- 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 all this, you’re on the right track to engaging, even inspiring, the people you’ll present to.