When you state your bottom line up front, be sure you don't give only your topic. Actually state, briefly, what you conclude, recommend, or request.

Sometimes a presentation doesn't have a bottom line. In that case, be sure your audience isn't expecting one. That is, tell them your purpose: you're simply providing information and not asking for any action. Here's an example of a poor topic statement that may or may not have a bottom line later on:

• The topic today is our benefits program.

Is the speaker asking for more money for benefits? Or just providing information? It's impossible to tell.

This topic statement makes it clearer there's no delayed bottom line:

• This morning I'll update you on our costs last month for our benefits program.

Now the decision maker—and the rest of the audience— clearly knows the presentation's purpose. They aren't waiting for you to spring a money request on them.

So far, then, these are the first three parts of my introduction:

Use a blueprint

My second suggestion is to let your audience know what the subtopics are in the body of your presentation. In other words, let them know the various "places" you'll pass through on your "trip." A good way to do that is with a blueprint. A blueprint is simply a list of the parts of the body of your presentation.

Suppose you're a headhunter—someone who makes money by finding experienced people to move from one company to another. You're explaining to your new employees just what headhunters do. For a blueprint, you might say this: "I'll explain our three main tasks: finding job openings, finding employees, and matching employees with those openings."

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