Be a presentation wizard! Use flexibility within structure.
I once had a trainee who, after having explained the structure of a good introduction, objected with the remark: but if everybody applies this, than we all do the same, and all our presentation will be alike!
He had a point. This needs more context and explanation. The hand of the master is in using the positive sides of structure (give the audience grip), without becoming too formulaic or coming across as contrived. So, you need to be flexible within its constraints.
Like the basic structure of a presentation is beginning, middle and ending. I can safely say, that most presentations come across as totally different, although they do have this same underlying structure.
So, what do you do then to keep the good thing, structure, but without coming across as formulaic, predictable and thereby boring?
Use variation! Or as Nancy Duarte calls it: contrast. Nancy Duarte uses the sonate as great metaphor to explain contrast. A sonate also has a underlying structure like a presentation. Yet, no sonate sounds like the other. By using different contrast in various layers, the composer can be flexible within its constraints. For instance: vary with density (the number of notes played), dynamic contrast (loud and soft), and tonal contrast.
“The foundation for an interesting sonate is that is has contrast in varying layers, similar to a presentation. Just like a great sonata, a great presentation should follow the structure of the presentation form, yet be flexible within its constraints.” (Nancy Duarte)
So, how can you add, variation or contrast within your presentation?
- Add contrast, between how things are, and what they could be. (f.e. juxtapose the status quo with how it could be once your idea, product, information is adopted).
- Alternate between information dense parts and more light bits, by telling anecdotes, showing pictures, giving examples in between that underpin your information/view.
- After your monologue, instigate interaction.
- Show your message in different ways: picture, metaphor, story.
- Change a traditional way of presenting, with a non-traditional way of presenting by alternating serious business tone, with humour and enthusiasm or change from talking about your product, to showing your product.
Be a presentation wizard, be flexible, be playful within the restraints of structure and add contrast. To eventually get the best of both worlds.
Source: Resonate by Nancy Duarte.