Remember presentations better by structuring your content


Matt Abrams is an expert on public speaking and a lecturer at Stanford. In a recent article, he says you will be better able to remember presentations by “structuring your content,” rather than presenting it randomly.

He explains:

“Having a structure helps you remember what to say because even if you forget the specifics, you can use the general framework to stay on track. For example, when using the Problem-Solution-Benefit structure–which is good for persuading and motivating people–you first lay out a specific problem (or opportunity), then detail a solution to address the problem, defining its benefits. If you are in the middle of the Solution portion of your talk and blank out, recalling your structure will tell you that the Benefits portion comes next.”

Not only does the structure give you a framework for recalling how the information fits together, I can see how it helps your audience better understand and remember your message.

Abrams says his favorite structure is, “What?-So What?-Now What?, which can help you not only in planned presentations but also in spontaneous speaking situations such as job interviews.”

What: Your message or claim

So What: Why it matters; the benefits if it is accepted

Now What: What to do next; the call to action.

I like this, too. It can be used for formal presentations, papers, briefs, articles, letters, oral arguments, and blog posts. You can also use it to help a client understand where things are in a case and why they should follow your recommendation.

The article has additional tips on public speaking, including how to practice a presentation.

For more ideas for structuring reports and other content, see my 30 Day Referral Blitz

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