Bookend your presentation structure to give the audience a satisfying experience.
You can bookend your segment of a group presentation, too.
What’s this bookending and why is it so important to audience response?
Bookending brings your audience full circle, in a sense. You first hook your audience with an intense introduction, and at then at the conclusion of your presentation, you recapitulate.
This provides a sense of closure and completion for the audience.
Presentation Structure Begins with This
The First Bookend.
This means to start your presentation with an anecdote, cue, or visual image that hooks your listeners into the narrative. This is your “grabber.”
It can’t be a gimmick, or the audience will feel cheated. Your grabber must startle and delight your audience. An interesting fact, a controversial statement, a powerful phrase. And then you follow with your situation statement, which flows naturally from your grabber.
Your clear situation statement of only one or two sentences tells the audience exactly what they are about to hear, start to finish. One of the best grabbers/situation statements I’ve ever heard was this pithy formulation:
“There’s a deal on the table. Don’t take it. Here’s why.”
That grabber is powerful and direct and is almost enough for a situation statement as well.
That’s your first bookend.
The Middle of Your Presentation Structure
Then you offer your major points of your presentation, usually three major points.
Why three? Because of the Rule of Three that I have spoken of in this space so many times. We seem to be hard-wired to receive information most efficiently in threes. Whether it’s a slogan or a fairy tale, when information is grouped in threes, we respond well to it and we remember it better.
“Stop. Look. Listen.”
“The Three Little Pigs.”
“Goldilocks and the Nine Bears.”
This three-part presentation structure can serve you well as a framework for most any presentation.
As you wind to a conclusion, you then construct your second and final bookend.
Recapitulation of your Presentation Structure
You say these words: “In conclusion, we can see that—” Then . . .
Repeat your original situation statement. Hearken back to the original introductory anecdote, cue, or visual image that launched your presentation.
Finally, say: “We believe that our presentation substantiates this.”
You come full-circle, so to speak, and the audience gains a sense of completeness. This recapitulation of your theme knits together your segment into a whole. Your audience appreciates the closure.
Rather than a linear march, where nothing said in your presentation seems to relate to anything that came before, you offer a satisfying circularity. You bring your audience home.
You bring you audience back to the familiar starting point, and this drives home the major point of your talk in two especially powerful ways: 1) the outright repetition of your theme, cementing it in the minds of your listeners, and 2) the story convention of providing a satisfying ending, tying up loose ends, and giving psychological closure.
It’s an elegant technique that can pay big dividends in terms of audience response.