How to structure your PowerPoint presentation

Every book, film, TV show, and theatre production has a structure, so your PowerPoint presentation should be no different. Before you start, or decide what to wear on the day, you need to build your PowerPoint structure to give your presentation a logical flow.

To do that, you need to start asking yourself some questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What do I want from them?
  • What do I want them to take from the presentation?

Knowing your audience as best you can will help you shape the structure and tone of your presentation, increasing its effectiveness. Research is key here, finding out beforehand who it is you will be presenting to and the core values of their organisation.

To the point

Consider then what the whole point of your PowerPoint presentation is: why are you presenting to them and what do you hope to achieve as a result? Is it a sale? Is it a new client, or a promotion? Realise your main goal and plan the PowerPoint presentation structure to point only to that. Information that deviates from that eventual goal should be booted out at the structuring phase, allowing you to keep your presentation simple and to the point.

Think then about what your audience will be thinking in the aftermath of your presentation. Do you need them to do something? Do you need to change the way they think about something? Consider this when planning the presentation and be sure to include some form of engaging call to action.

The next important points to include in your PowerPoint structure are:

  • Being clear about who you are and why you’re here
  • Developing a story that sees your audience’s opinion or thoughts transformed
  • Highlight the ‘Killer Slide’, or the piece of information that is most important

Smashing the ice

The beginning of your PowerPoint presentation is hugely important. Simply standing up and introducing yourself might seem like the most effective way of starting, but it will hardly grab the audience’s interest.

Obama and PowerPoint presentations Barack Obama and structuring a PowerPoint presentation

One famous public speaker who often nailed the start of speeches was Barack Obama. Even in serious surroundings with the eyes of the world’s media on him, Obama would often begin with a joke; one that immediately demanded attention and warmed the audience to him. It was also a great power move, as the president was pointing out that even in a pressured, demanding scenario he was able to be playful and witty.

You might not want to start with a joke, but giving an interesting statement, one designed to produce an emotional reaction in your audience, will work to get the ball rolling.

The feels

Obviously, the information you are there to communicate is very important to your PowerPoint presentation, and it’s overall structure, but more important is the way you make your audience feel. Appealing to people’s emotions is the most effective way of capturing their attention during the presentation and building their trust and should definitely be considered when planning your PowerPoint structure.

In structuring your presentation be sure to create a story for them to follow and be invested in; a journey with a beginning, middle and end. Begin by presenting a problem that they can relate to and show them how, with your or your company’s help, they can overcome it. Make them the hero of the tale.

Rule of Three

You want to create a memorable presentation, especially if your audience are sitting through several in one long go. To make your information easier for people to recall later, use the Rule of Three.

Neuroscientists know that humans have difficulty retaining multiple pieces of data in the short-term. Bombard your audience with too much information and their brains will literally shut down. Therefore be sure to structure your PowerPoint presentation into threes where possible.

What Steve Jobs taught us about PowerPoint structure Steve Jobs and the Rule of Three in PowerPoint presentations


Steve Jobs used this technique when first introducing the iPhone 2007. He distilled the phone’s functions into three (iPod, phone, internet device) and then based the whole keynote speech around those topics.

Consider how your presentation can be organised into thirds and how the data you include on your slides can also be arranged that way.


No, not how good your vision has to be to create an awesome presentation, but rather a very important rule to remember and a great one to end this post on. 20/20 means you should:

  • Keep your presentation under 20 minutes in length, and…
  • Practice it out loud at least 20 times before presenting

Got that? Good. Now go forth and fix your PowerPoint structure. If you need help tying together all your great ideas into a professional and slick slide deck, talk to us.

Here at Future Present we live and breathe PowerPoint and have mastered what it takes to create a powerful and effective presentation. All that experience is at your fingertips.