Master Your Message Blog

Why You Should Start Your Persuasive Presentation with a Problem

This is for those of us who have sat through a persuasive presentation and wondered, “What on earth is this about?”

I haven’t actually counted, but it seems to me that it happens more than fifty percent of the time. I don’t know where the speaker is going. The flow of the presentation is off – it’s not logical.

More often than not, the speakers forgets to tell us what the presentation is about … they just launch into the middle of it.

Or sometimes, they start with a big, long story … but we have no idea where it’s leading … sometimes, even at the end of it!

There’s a really simple way of thinking about the flow. It’s the secret to crafting really compelling presentations, because it’s how we humans think. The video below explains it and I have a link to another article that goes into it in-depth. Enjoy!

Problem – Solution – Why.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s really the way we think – particularly in business.

We don’t want a great big long story about the situation or what led up to it before we know what the problem is. We just don’t have time. We need to know the situation (or problem) and how it relates to us.

And then tell me your solution. Once those are on the table and we’re focussed on them, the story (or why that solution is the absolutely perfect one to solve this particular problem) makes sense.

For more on this, see my article, “Why Open with a Problem.”

If this is how we think, then it’s how we should communicate.

Graphic of 3 elements of structure: problem, solution, whyStart your presentation with the problem (or situation, or opportunity). Then state your solution. Those are the basics of your opening. At that point, your audience knows exactly what your presentation is about.

Then the body of your presentation is all about “the why” – why is this solution the right one for this problem?

After you’re finished with the “why,” move on to the close, or summary. Restate the problem, restate the solution and then ask for the order. In other words, tell your audience what the next step is.

That’s presentation logic. Actually, it works in a lot of other situations. Try it in emails, phone conversations … It gets right to the point. Problem – solution – why.

You’ll keep your audience on track right to the end. And in business, that’s critical.

Give me your thoughts on whether this works for you.

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