Partners in Performance Blog

Presentation Structure: Three Buckets for Your Key Points


Presentation Key Point StructureIn my recent post about presentation structure, I highlighted the importance of the ‘rule of three’. In speaking, writing and all forms of communication the ‘rule of three’ states that concepts presented in three’s provide much needed clarity and are more memorable.

Three’s are pervasive in everyday life:

1)    Children’s stories: the three bears, three little pigs, the Three Musketeers

2)    Sporting three’s: three strikes in baseball, three Olympic medals, three hockey innings

3)    Chronological three’s: before, during, after; past, present, future; morning, afternoon, evening

Your presentation structure overall is best organized in three’s with a beginning, middle and an end. In addition, in the middle of your presentation – where you are making your key points – the rule of three works like a charm.

What if I have more than three points to speak about?

I am not suggesting that you choose only three things to present. Instead, think of it like clustering your speaking points into three buckets.

It’s a bit like how we organize our clothes. I have a dresser in my bedroom with three drawers and all my clothes are ‘bucketed’ in those three drawers. Jammies and unmentionables are in the top drawer, all my t-shirts and sweaters are in my middle drawer, and my jeans and yoga pants are in my bottom drawer. Getting dressed is smooth and fast because I know exactly where everything is. Imagine if all my clothes were piled up in a laundry basket! How confusing it would be to find what I wanted.

You may organize your dresser drawers differently from me and that’s ok. What’s important is that the logic makes sense for each of us.

Examples of three buckets for presentation structure

One approach to creating your three buckets is to think about the questions that are on the minds of your audience. For example, they may be wondering ‘why’ is this new initiative important, ‘what’ is going to change and ‘how’ will it be implemented? Or they may already know the ‘why’ and have 3 ‘how’ questions.

  • How will we engage our employees?
  • How will we communicate these changes to our clients?
  • How will we hold each other accountable throughout the implementation process?

This is why knowing your audience is critical.

What are other examples of three buckets?

The Why, What, How structure works for many presentations but the three buckets could also use the following structures:

  • Project Overview, Current Status, Needed Resources
  • Background, Current Situation, Desired Future
  • Vision, Goals, Action Steps
  • Client Needs, Our Proposal, Next Steps

Don’t fuss too much about getting it ‘right’. There is more than one way to skin the cat. The three bucket structure is simply a way to organize all of your content to create a clear, logical flow and make it easy for your audience to remember.

What are YOUR ideas or questions about organizing content into three buckets? Write a comment below, I would love to hear from you. 


This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on December 19, 2012 in Presentation Skills, Presentation Structure, UPFRONT Persuasion™. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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