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It is often difficult to get our minds around how to structure a presentation. This is a simple but immensely helpful mneumonic.

f = Frighten

“If traffic continues to grow at the hinge crossroads of this historic city’s center, your own best guess is that you will have gridlock within 5 years. You have rightly decided to act. And you must have that action completed by Sept. 2012 when the President of Europe declares you the City of Culture. We have a vital need and a pressing time scale.” (Then review detail as necessary.)

r = Reassure

“The need is massive and complex, the time scale appears tight. However, I have already put my team onto it. It can be done. I guarantee it. Let me explain.”

e1 = Explain

“My firm is dedicated to creating significant architecture that works in major public spaces and that inspires and transforms its communities. The whole practice is geared to dealing with large numbers, large scale as well as inevitably high profile projects and exacting time scales. Let me just give you 2 examples….”

“So how do we deal with your two imperatives? In this case…

  1. We already have an experienced and familiar team including Arup and….We know each other. We worked together on….. We have developed a unique real time parallel project management capability.
  2. We will need the following facilities.
    • Physical office
    • Decision making structure
    • Internal communications and reporting structure
    • External communications and PR”

e2 = Enthuse

“OK, we will do it to time and to cost. Let’s look at what it will look like in September 2012…there will be three overwhelming achievements, not two:

  • Usability: traffic will be moving but out of sight….it will perform.
  • Identity: the city will have a new and visible center, it will have won back its medieval heart beat.
  • Excitement: we will have gone one mile further, once the space is won back we have the scope for a landmark reappraisal….. We propose therefore…..”

d = Dialogue

You’ve done your presentation. If you have got it right, you will have used their language “your own best guess” for gridlock. “You were right to act”, “You have set the timescale” etc. You will have played back their patterns of speech (historic, medieval), their phrases (we want our city center back) and you have added something extra, confidence (I guarantee it) and excitement (here’s our third and extra idea).

You should now all be facing in the same direction. But it has largely been your speaking and your team. So stand back and give them a real chance to dialogue. Listen. Let the doubters speak themselves out. Listen to what is behind the questions. Be alert, flexible, quick on your mental feet, and be on their side, think through their eyes. From here on its “we” meaning you, your team and all of them. They are not fools, they are part of the new group, so what is underlying their query, how can we genuinely take it on board?

o = Overview

At some point you have to take back control of the meeting. Do it by referring back to the overarching imperative of objectives.

“OK, thank you everyone for your constructive comments. Thank you especially Miranda, and you, Charlie for your comments. We will take them away (looking to your note taker) and add them to the future thinking. Thank you for your support….”

This is a short bridge passage, simply aimed at your thanking them, putting a constructive spin on whatever dialogue took place, naming anyone who was really helpful or prominent and allowing you to pass quickly to an ending on the up beat of Momentum.

m = Momentum


You are wanting to get out. You have “sold” it as much as you ever can. You have as much “agreement” as you believe you can achieve. Don’t hang around. Leave! But leave in a way that cements their choice and confidence in you.

“Thank you again. Time is pressing. Deadlines remain deadlines. We will do a note on this meeting and copy it to each of you. In preparing that, we will contact you to make sure there is nothing else you will need from us, and to fix the point to when we can really get started. We are tremendously keen to work with you, we’ve enjoyed today, thank you very much.”

Then smile one more time and leave.

Presentations matter – if in doubt, call me.