Organizing Principles: going beyond chronology

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In our last post we spoke of various ways of organizing presentation material within a chronological paradigm.

Today, we look at some other modes of organization which answer 3 essential questions::

  1. What’s it all about?
  2. What’s the difference? 
  3. Where’s the evidence? 

These 3 questions can be answered by the following broadly defined organizing principles:

  1. Topical: This speaks for itself! To organize material topic-wise is sometimes such an obvious solution to getting order out of chaos that we may actually end up overlooking it. To go step-by-step is logical and easy to assimilate. This can so easily be done by outlining the overarching topic first and then breaking it down into smaller subsidiary topics. This method is so time-tested (think education and other knowledge-dissemination fields) that you can’t go wrong with it. It makes your audience immediately relax because this mode is so familiar to them – they don’t have to make an extra effort to navigate and understand how all the bits add up – you simply lead them through it, section by section.
  2. Comparative: This is very useful for product demonstrations or pitches that involve understanding why Offering A is better than Offering B. Visual aids like pie-charts, statistics, maps, graphs are key to this mode of organizing material, and make any presentation easier both on the eye and on the brain – much more so than bullet-points!
  3. Demonstrative: This mode can accommodate a variety of material – for example, talking heads or customer testimonials that reveal i.e. demonstrate the key point more eloquently and communicatively than dry figures. Embedded videos that “show” rather than “tell”. Before-after scenarios. Logical outcomes made vivid is how we describe this mode!

In short, the Topical mode reveals what it’s all about, the Comparative mode leads to a better understanding of unique selling points, and the Demonstrative mode makes your story all the more believable!