Chapter 3

The Structure of a Presentation

All presentations should be organized into three major sections, regardless of length:

1. The introduction
2. The body
3. The conclusion

Let’s take a look at each section in greater detail.


The introduction is the beginning of your presentation and should account for 10 to 15 percent of your total presentation time. For purposes of this section, let’s assume you are scheduled to give a 60-minute presentation. Fifteen percent of 60 minutes is 9 minutes. This means the introduction section of your presentation should take only about 9 minutes.

Your introduction consists of three parts:

1. The grabber
2. The purpose
3. The agenda

The grabber is an opening statement to grab the attention of the audience. This may include such things as a quote, a shocking statistic, or some startling statement. You may also use a humorous quote. I do not, however, recommend using a joke. Most jokes take too long to tell. Most presenters are lousy joke tellers, and most jokes have nothing to do with your presentation. Many presenters think (and even believe) they need to start off with a joke to “loosen up” the audience, when in fact it is them, the presenters, who need to loosen up. Your average short joke takes several minutes to tell, and in most cases, it does not get the expected reaction from the audience.

There is nothing wrong with including humor in your presentation, but using a joke will generally take too long. You are better ...

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