The Master Communicator Blog

Create great presentations with a sandwich strategy

Effective business presentations don’t have to be tedious and cumbersome. Make it simple. Structure your talk like a sandwich with your juicy big idea wedged between slices of opening statement and conclusion.
June 3, 2024

It happens over and over again. Death by PowerPoint. In the age of AI at our fingertips, why should anyone have to sit through the monotony of a presenter reading from text-cluttered slides? It doesn’t have to be that way. You can streamline your content with a simple three-part structure. Try creating a presentation sandwich with the delicious middle tucked neatly between an opening hook and a compelling closing

Each part of a presentation plays a crucial role, just as each layer of a well-constructed sandwich contributes to the overall flavor and enjoyment of the meal. Let’s dive into the anatomy of concise presentation where each element can lead to a satisfying and memorable experience for your audience.

The top layer of bread: Opening

The first words out of your mouth set the tone for what follows. The initial moments, including your delivery and non-verbal language, must be interesting and attention-grabbing. Use a hook – an interesting fact, a compelling story, or a provocative question – to capture your audience’s interest right from the start. Understand their needs, interests, and pain points and laser focus on offering a resolution. In other words, satisfy their craving.

You can tease what follows and the solution to the problem you propose. If you front-load your presentation with an enticing proposition—your big idea–you have a tasty, crusty, top layer of artisanal bread that hints at the delight to follow. 

For example:

“In the next 10 minutes, you will discover how we can double our Q4 productivity index by making a small change in the procurement process.”

“The rules of engagement for our B2B strategy have changed. My team proposes a plan to deliver a seamless buying experience and avoid any deal stallers. Let me explain how we aim to address this challenge.”

“Imagine if we could establish a footprint throughout the hemisphere with minimal capital investment?”

Do these openings make you want to continue eating?

The filling: Body

What you put in the middle provides the substance. This is where you deliver your main content, share key points, and support them with evidence. Like a well-layered sandwich, the body should be rich, varied, and well-organized. A presentation thrives on diverse and well-structured content but refrain from overstuffing your sandwich. Keep to three main points and break each down into manageable sections, each with its subpoints and evidence.

The body of your presentation should balance information, examples, and visuals. Use data, anecdotes, and visuals to support your points, ensuring that no single element overwhelms the others. Keep text to a minimum. Think about the flow—how each bite blends with the next one. Transition smoothly between ideas to maintain coherence. Use signposts, summaries, and rhetorical questions to guide your audience through your content.

Just as a surprising ingredient can delight the taste buds, unexpected insights or interactive elements can make your content stickier. Don’t follow the tired tradition of holding questions to the end. Invite and ask questions, encourage participation, and be responsive to your audience’s reactions. “Does this make sense?” “Can you envision this scenario for our company?” This interaction will make your presentation more dynamic and relevant.

The bottom slice: Closing

According to the law of primary and recency, people are more likely to remember what they hear and see first and last. That’s why you must make your opening and closing count.

The conclusion is the final layer that enhances the overall experience and ensures that your key messages resonate and inspire action. How do you want your audience to think and act at the conclusion of your talk? Summarize the main recommendations and next steps outlined in your presentation.

A strong closing statement leaves a lasting impact and inspires further conversation. This could be a call to action, a thought-provoking quote, or a story that ties everything together. Aim to leave your audience with something to ponder or act upon.

“Together we can achieve the audacious goal we outlined. It’s possible. It’s within our reach and the outcome will yield benefits for years to come.”

“This is just the beginning. We invite your feedback and look to your allyship to evolve these ideas further.”

Putting the sandwich together

Just as crafting the perfect sandwich requires attention to detail and a balance of ingredients, creating an effective presentation demands careful planning and execution. Here’s a quick summary of how to apply the sandwich analogy to your next presentation:

1. Start with an enticing top slice of bread. Capture attention with a compelling introduction that addresses a pain point or pressing need, and a possible solution. Establish context and understanding of the situation to set the stage for your content.

2. Deliver substance with the filling. Organize your content into clear, engaging sections. Aim for three parts. Balance information and examples. Maintain a smooth flow and easy transitions. Surprise your audience by inviting their input throughout.

3. Finish with a solid bottom layer. Summarize your main points and leave a lasting impression with a strong closing statement. Ask for support, buy-in, collaboration and guidance to make your ideas become reality.

It may be difficult to introduce new ways of presenting in your organization. But by merely changing the structure of your next talk, you may trigger a shift towards more effective and efficient presentations that people will want to attend. Just as a well-made sandwich can leave you craving more, a well-crafted, well-delivered presentation can inspire, inform, and resonate long after the final slide.

Rosemary Ravinal

Business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to elevate their public speaking impact, executive presence, and media interview skills come to me for personalized attention and measurable results. I am recognized as America’s Premier Bilingual Public Speaking Coach after decades as a corporate spokesperson and media personality in the U.S. mainstream, Hispanic and Latin American markets. My company’s services are available for individuals, teams, in-person and online, and in English and Spanish in South Florida and elsewhere.

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