6. Sequencing

Sequence your evidence so that it tells a compelling story

In this step, you will take all the information you have gathered in the previous five steps and sequence it into the form of a story.  There is a fundamental insight about all good stories: they proceed by creating tensions that are then resolved. The way to take advantage of this insight is as follows – you will need a stack of blank index cards:

First, introduce your presentation with a “situation” – why are we having this presentation?  Write this down on an index card. Then write down a “complication” and a “resolution” – typically the problem and solution that you identified in step 3.  Write these down on two separate index cards. Then follow the resolution with a specific example of that resolution, also on another index card (typically selected from one of the anecdotes you identified in step 5).

Then ask yourself: at this point, what is the most likely objection the audience would raise?  Write that as the next complication.  How would you respond to it?  That’s your next resolution.  Then add an example; write each on its own index card.  (The point of using index cards is so that you can easily move things around or substitute others as you work on the sequence.)

Keep on going this way until you’ve covered all reasonable objections.  You will likely have covered all the information you want to cover.  Whatever remains probably should not be in your presentation (put it in an appendix instead).

Why does this approach work so well?  It works because you are not giving information to your audience without first creating the need for that information – that’s the role of the complication in the process: it raises a question, which creates the need for the answer, which you then provide—the resolution.

When you are done with this, move on to step 7: Charts.


How to handle transitions from one slide to another.

From Advanced Presentations by Design:

  • Further details on the structure of all effective stories (p. 77)
  • More on how to use the S.Co.R.E. method (p. 80)
  • What to do with information that does not fit into your outline: the role of the appendix (p. 87)