Master Your Message Blog

Why It’s Important to Include an Agenda in the Opening of Your Presentation

One of the phrases you definitely don’t want to hear from your audience is “what on earth was that about” or “I was absolutely lost from the very first word.”

It happens all the time. It’s the biggest single mistake beginning presenters make – not telling the audience where they’re taking them. And after all, when you give a presentation, you are taking your audience on a journey. Hopefully, not down a dark rabbit hole.

Well, there’s a simple, but exceptionally important solution that will keep your audience with you right ’til the end and ensure your presentation is really effective. The following video will explain it all …

So … somewhere in your opening you absolutely, positively have to have an agenda. Now this can be as simple as a sentence telling them what you want to them to do at end of the presentation or what you intend to prove.

There’s a specific place to put it in the opening of your persuasive presentation. You’ll find the structure here.

If you’re using visual support (Keynote or PowerPoint), you can create a screen with a short list of what you’re going to cover.

But remember, it should conform to the Rule of 66: Six lines of text of six words each … MAX!

What you’re doing when you provide an agenda (or statement of what you’re going to cover) is helping your audience focus on what’s important. You’re telling them what you want them to do at the end of the presentation so that they can gather the information they need during the presentation and do just that.

I have a client who each year for the annual general meeting, puts a two column list on the screen. Listen … nobody cares … and even fewer are going to remember any of it. You simply want to communicate the major points you’re going to make or the major subtopics you’re going to cover.

It’s really important to keep your audience on track. If they know what you want them to concentrate on, they’ll do just that. Don’t make them think too hard and above all, don’t confuse them.

Confuse them, you’ll lose them.

So, always tell your audience up front where you’re going – simple as that.

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