FLOW – part 2: Structural Flow

Focus you have

List you gather

Order you bring

Words you use

FLOW is a simple roadmap I developed over the years to structure any presentation. Last post I looked at the creative part of FLOW – Focus and List. See the blog post here: FLOW – part 1: Creative Flow

Now it’s time for the structural FLOW, the Order you bring and the Words you use. Fasten your seatbelts!

Order you bring

Imagine a presentation as a city roadmap with a highway running through it, and roads and side lanes:

  • Your highway is your key message,
  • The roads are the main points of your message, and
  • The side lanes are descriptions of each of your main points.

Don’t take your audience to far off the highway on the side lanes or they might get lost!

This is the stage to get your red marker out and be brutal. It’s where you sometimes have to ‘kill your babies’. We all have them; a favourite anecdote you can’t wait to share, a fact you just want to explain in a little more detail, clever points you want to make. Ask yourself: Will this lead back to my highway/key message? Will people get lost if I don’t tell them this? This stage of preparation is by far my favourite. Here you show some real character, what matters most to you? It’s content over performing. Do I want to look smart, or be meaningful?

All roads need crossroads and junctions, as does your presentation. How does it all link together? Does it all link together?
Rule of thumb here is that if you can’t follow it, your audience certainly won’t be able to follow it either. Take the driver’s seat and drive through your city, your presentation. Make sure you can easily drive from one point to another. You might want to say it out loud at this stage.

Words you use

For the Words you use you apply the Power of Three: make sure the words you use are simple, short and striking. Not only for your audience to understand, but also for you to pronounce. Fancy words have an habit of making us trip over them. Sure you might sound clever, but ask yourself what is more important; that your message comes across or that you sound clever? Use an online Thesaurus (like thesaurus.com) for useful synonyms of words that may be hard to understand and/or pronounce.

Less is more is the motto of this stage. Here you are sharpening the saw. Get ready for practicing the delivery (did you think you could get away without it? ;-))

This doesn’t mean that it needs to be perfect and finished once you start practicing your delivery. In fact as you practice it out loud a couple of times you will notice some inconsistencies. It shouldn’t take you long to fix these, as you have your framework in place. A framework you’ve built using FLOW.

For a quick overview – check this infographic of FLOW and let me know how you’re getting along.



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