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Types of Presentations
By Randall P. Whatley, President, Cypress Media Group

The first step in preparing a presentation is to define the purpose of your presentation.

The first step in preparing a presentation is to define the purpose of your presentation.

The following is an overview of several common types of presentations and their purpose. Each presentation type requires a specific organization technique to assure they are understood and remembered by the audience. The suggested organizational structure is also provided.

1. Informative

Keep an informative presentation brief and to the point. Stick to the facts and avoid complicated information. Choose one of the following organizational structures for an informative presentation:

  • Time
    • Explains when things should happen
    • Works best with visual people or people who can see the overall organization or sequence of events
    • Use words like "first," "second," "third," to list order

  • Place
    • Explains where things should happen
    • Works best with people who understand the group or area you are talking about
    • Use words like "Region 1, 2, 3, or 4" to explain order

  • Cause and Effect
    • Explains how things should happen
    • Works best with people who understand the relationship between events
    • Use phrases like "Because of ____________, we now have to ___________"

  • Logical Order
    • Simply list items in their order of importance
      Works best with people who are accustomed to breaking down complex data into components in order to digest the material


2. Instructional

Your purpose in an instructional presentation is to give specific directions or orders. Your presentation will probably be a bit longer, because it has to cover your topic thoroughly. In an instructional presentation, your listeners should come away with new knowledge or a new skill.

  • Explain why the information or skill is valuable to the audience
  • Explain the learning objectives of the instructional program
  • Demonstrate the process if it involves something in which the audience will later participate using the following method
    • Demonstrate it first without comment
    • Demonstrate it again with a brief explanation
    • Demonstrate it a third time, step-by-step, with an explanation
    • Have the participants practice the skill
  • Provide participants the opportunity to ask questions, give, and receive feedback from you and their peers
  • Connect the learning to actual use
  • Have participants verbally state how they will use it

3. Arousing

Your purpose in an arousing presentation is to make people think about a certain problem or situation. You want to arouse the audience's emotions and intellect so that they will be receptive to your point of view. Use vivid language in an arousing presentation-- project sincerity and enthusiasm.

  • Gain attention with a story that illustrates (and sometimes exaggerates) the problem
  • Show the need to solve the problem and illustrate it with an example that is general or commonplace
  • Describe your solution for a satisfactory resolution to the problem
  • Compare/contrast the two worlds with the problem solved and unsolved
  • Call the audience to action to help solve the problem
  • Give the audience a directive that is clear, easy, and immediate

4. Persuasive

Your purpose in a persuasive presentation is to convince your listeners to accept your proposal. A convincing persuasive presentation offers a solution to a controversy, dispute, or problem. To succeed with a persuasive presentation, you must present sufficient logic, evidence, and emotion to sway the audience to your viewpoint.

  • Create a great introduction because a persuasive presentation introduction must accomplish the following:
    • Seize the audience's attention
    • Disclose the problem or needs that your product or service will satisfy
  • Tantalize the audience by describing the advantages of solving the problem or need
  • Create a desire for the audience to agree with you by describing exactly how your product or service with fill their real needs
  • Close your persuasive presentation with a call to action
  • Ask for the order
  • Ask for the decision that you want to be made
  • Ask for the course of action that you want to be followed

5. Decision-making

Your purpose in a decision-making presentation is to move your audience to take your suggested action. A decision-making presentation presents ideas, suggestions, and arguments strongly enough to persuade an audience to carry out your requests. In a decision-making presentation, you must tell the audience what to do and how to do it. You should also let them know what will happen if the don't do what you ask.

  • Gain attention with a story that illustrates the problem
  • Show the need to solve the problem and illustrate it with an example that is general or commonplace
  • Describe your solution to bring a satisfactory resolution to the problem
  • Compare/contrast the two worlds with the problem solved and unsolved
  • Call the audience to action to help solve the problem and give them a way to be part of the solution



Randall P. Whatley, is a 26-year media veteran with diverse business experience. Whatley is president of Cypress Media Group, Inc. ( www.cypressmedia.net ), an Atlanta-based advertising, public relations, and training firm. He has extensive experience advising government officials, political candidates, public officials, and corporate executives on media relations and presentation skills. He has also written two syndicated newspaper columns and numerous magazine articles. Whatley has hosted his own television and radio program and appeared often as a TV and radio program guest, including a CNN appearance. He has produced hundreds of TV and radio ads and taught a myriad of seminars ranging from Public Relations Writing to Media Relations. He can be reached by e-mail at randy@cypressmedia.net.

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