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Three Part Presentation


Techniques Public speaking > Preparing the Presentation > Three Part Presentation

Beginning | Middle | End | See also


The three-part structure is a very common principle by which presentations are organized. Here are further details you can use in preparing for this.


The first part of the presentation has the purpose of preparing the audience for the main body of the talk. This is where the primacy effect happens and so care is needed in getting it right.


The first task when meeting an audience is settling them down, making them comfortable and ready for the main presentation. For many presentations, this means quietening them down and getting their attention, for example where a teacher settles a class before the lesson proper starts.

Another approach is to settle the audience into an energized state by starting with a bang and generating excitement, such as might happen at a sales conference.

Introducing people is a part of the settling process. In a large hall only the speaker is likely to be introduced. In an adult training class, it is common for each person to introduce themself.


When a presenter first meets an audience they may not know what the audience knows and so to allow some customization, they may check the audience's knowledge of the subject matter.

This can sometimes be done by a pre-survey or discussion with organizers, although it can also be done by asking questions directly of the audience.


One of the most important early stages is setting the scene, providing a context for the audience into which they can place the main talk. It has been said that there is no meaning without context and this is the place where that crucible of context is described.

This may also include scoping, where the presenter indicates what will be covered and what is out of scope and will not be covered. Limits to what will be covered include time available, audience ability to absorb information, and knowledge of the presenter.


The audience will often judge the speaker, assessing whether it is worth their time attending to what is said. Much of this decision-making happens up-front and it is consequently important for the speaker to build credibility.


The middle part of the presentation, which is easily 90% or so of the time, is the main body of the talk in which information is presented and (possibly) there is interaction with the audience.


This part can have many different structures in itself, and typically is broken down into bite-sized pieces, each of which may have a mini-introduction and conclusion.



Building models


The closing part of the presentation has the goal of leaving the audience satisfied, having increased their understanding of the topic or otherwise gained what you want them to gain.


Drawing conclusions is about bringing together the main issues discussed into a climax that may well create significant 'aha's as the audience gets the points you really want to make. Concluding is therefore about closure, helping the audience to fully close the tensions that were opened up during the main presentation.


It can also be useful to summarize, repeating points made earlier. The recency effect says that we remember things more that come at the end, so it can be useful to repeat the key things that you want them to take away and use.


The end of a presentation may also include some form of assessment to allow the speaker to find out whether the key points have been understood. The extent to which you can test varies greatly with context and all that may be possible is something like a 'mock test' where the speaker both asks and answers questions.


Questions may be elicited from the audience and answered at the end of the presentation. This allows further closure of uncertainty and gives the speaker some feedback on how well the speech was accepted.


At the end, you may link to other things, such as the next presentation. It can also be helpful to remind them of your name and give them your contact details.

See also


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