If you put your conclusions first, people are more likely to stay with you until the end.
I recently analyzed a market research presentation, and its structure went something like this:
- Background and methodology (Slides 2-6: charts, diagrams, bullets)
- Key metrics summary (Slides 7-15: charts, diagrams, bullets)
- Conclusions and implications (Slides 16-20: bullets)
Slide 20 was the "money slide", or the slide that recommended to the audience exactly what they should do based on the research. This slide was clear, concise and easy to put into action.
But why wait until the end to show the most meaningful slide?
Whenever we structure a presentation, we often want to walk people through the same steps that we followed in order to arrive at an answer. We might do that because we’re proud of the thinking process that we went through, or we think it brings credibility by explaining the details before coming to the conclusion.
The only problem is that if you wait until the end to present your conclusions, you make it much more difficult for your audience to stay with you. In the outline above, you’re forcing the audience to hold 19 dense slides of information in their working memory, before you get to slide 20 where you tell them why it’s important to them in the first place.
But when you flip the outline around and present your conclusions first, then your audience knows up-front where you’re going, and they can pay attention to the reasons why or how they should decide to do what you recommend. You still present the same information, but present your conclusions first and your reasoning second.
The BBP story template introduces a discipline to help you restructure a presentation this way so that it’s easier to understand. The Solution statement forms the basis for your "money slide", where you clearly state what you recommend; and the 5-minute Column statements form the basis for the 3 or 4 slides that explain your top-level reasoning behind what you recommend.
When you use a presentation structure like this to clearly focus on the conclusion first, you’re much more likely to help your audience profit from the meaning of your work.