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Creating an Outline
Spatial, Topic and Basic Chronology

One of the simplest structures when creating an outline for a presentation is the spatial outline. With this type of outline, you develop your presentation as if you were taking your audience on a tour by 'walking' them through the subject, in the same way as if you were, say, walking them through a building while of course stopping to point out interesting things on the way. You do this by dividing the subject into how it is arranged spatially.

Depending on your presentation subject, this can be a nice approach as it's much easier for your audience to follow your presentation if they can see that you are leading them, like a guide, from one area to another, such as up-to-down, large-to-small, left-to-right, etc. A complex subject can sometimes be easier to understand by simply categorizing its various elements spatially.

So for example, if you're planning to give a presentation about a new office that you're moving in to, you may go about creating an outline something like…

Our new office

1 Ground floor
   1.1 Reception desk
   1.2 Facility Manager
   1.3 Printing department

2 First floor
   2.1 DTP department
   2.2 Graphic design office

3 Second floor
   3.1 Management offices
   3.2 Accounts department

A variation on the spatial outline is the topic outline. Although the topics may not be arranged in space, you can still categorize them in a similar way. For example, if you are giving a presentation about a new software, you can still 'walk through' its various features using the same structure method.

New Software

1 Menu screen selection 1
   1.2 Option A
   1.2 Option B

2 Menu screen selection 2
   2.1 Option X
   2.2 Option Y

Yet an other variation on this theme is the basic chronology outline. Here you are giving a sequence of events in the order they will, can or did happen.

These outline structures are great if you're new to presenting, and are sometimes the only way to convey a particular subject matter. However, the downside of creating an outline like these is that they often result in a presentation that is little more than a factual list, which can quickly become a bit monotonous for your audience.

Once you've given a few presentations based on these outlines, you'll probably want to try creating a presentation structure that's more interesting for your audience. Sometimes the subject matter itself will almost suggest a structure. Have a look at More Outline Formats for other outline examples.


Return to Structuring a Presentation from Creating an Outline


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