Great Presentation Tapestry

I think of a formal presentation as the product of many different details having to do with content, preparation, delivery, visuals, movement, connection with the audience, voice, tone, and on and on. I visualize each of these important things as a colorful thread, woven carefully together with all of the other threads within a large and intricate tapestry, resulting in a beautiful picture for the viewer to appreciate and enjoy.

How can we remember all of the threads that make up a presentation tapestry? My STORIES acronym may be helpful. See what you think!

STORIES – A design for thinking about great presentations

S          STORY

  • Who is my audience?
  • What specific content and detail must I include to explain my story to this audience?
  •  Is my purpose to teach or to present?

T          TIMING

  • Starting and ending on time
  • Pacing the material so there is no rushing
  • Speaking at a normal speed


  • Backward buildup to distribute the content within the given time
  • Logical sequencing of the parts of the story
  • Moving from general to specific, and from problem to solution


  • Practicing aloud – alone; in front of a friend/classmate/colleague
  • Mastering the first minute of the presentation to set the stage for the entire talk
  • Practicing with the laptop, the remote, the visuals, the movement


  • Posture, hands, gestures, eye contact
  • Connecting with the entire audience – front to back, side to side
  • Answering questions with clarity, precision, respect


  • Volume; ends of utterances and clarity
  • Authenticity of style and delivery
  • Confidence and enthusiasm

S          SLIDES

  • How many? And what can be said without visuals?
  • Smooth transitions
  • Crystal clear and easy to navigate from the point of view of the audience member