Four Steps to a Great Presentation

Legendary Dallas Seminary Professor Howard Hendricks made history at a Glen Eyrie conference when he proclaimed, “You Navigators have good material, but you deliver it in a garbage truck!”

Ouch! I thought I was a good speaker! Nonetheless, I took Hendricks’ admonition seriously. I researched public speaking and eventually developed this four-quadrant outline to prepare presentations.

1. In the upper right corner, ask What am I trying to achieve with this talk? What action do I want my listener to take? If your goal is vague, you will waste time and struggle with how to end your talk. The goal is not to inform but to inspire to action. As you decide what you want to accomplish with your speech, think about the needs of your audience. The clearer you are about what they need, the better your goals will be.

2. In the upper left corner, “blurt” your ideas for the talk. Don’t critique, just get them on paper and out of your head. Once your thoughts are on paper or on a computer screen, more thoughts will flow. Don’t worry if some of your blurts are goofy. You will not use them all!

Include delivery ideas. For example (from talks I have heard):

  • Bring a tomato plant pulled up by the roots to demonstrate staying rooted in Christ
  • Pull items out of a suitcase that are needed for a spiritual journey
  • Make an acronym of your main points (FEAR—Facing Expectations About Reality)

3. In the lower left corner, prepare your outline quickly using only the best of your “blurts.” It need not be perfect for now. I find a few icons help me organize my thoughts:

  • A box—■—indicates major points to make
  • An asterisk—*—means to share an illustration or a story
  • A circle with a slash in the middle—Ø—means read a Scripture and explain it
  • A smiley face—☺—says smile at the audience and invite humor
  • A “Q”—means ask the audience a question

4. In the lower right corner, plan the props and the timing of your speech.

  • Will you need a microphone? What kind?
  • Lectern? Does it hold your notes and props okay? Flip chart?
  • Power point slides? LCD projector, screen?
  • How do you want the chairs arranged? Theatre style? Around tables?
  • Go to the room where you will give the talk and rehearse. That’s right, practice! The more you rehearse, the more you can concentrate on your audience. Also, note the timing on each point. What can you eliminate?
  • Ask, “Does this talk meet my top-right-quadrant goal? Am I accomplishing what I hoped?

This 4-quadrant worksheet helps me create public presentations quickly and effectively. It is still a ton of work, but you have a choice—effective talk or mediocre? Work hard to deliver your talk in a Mercedes—not a garbage truck!


Additional Speaking Tips:

Should you write out your speech word for word? Most speakers are more effective if they prepare and rehearse. The late LeRoy Eims, Navigator pioneer and sought-after speaker worldwide, wrote out his speeches word for word. I traveled with him and saw him prepare thoroughly.  He didn’t read his notes but put his energy into concentrating on his audience. And he was exceedingly effective!

Hippopotamus Principle. My African friends tell me you can see only the ears and top of the back of a hippo in the water. Your preparation (like the hippo) stays below the water, never seen by the audience. Don’t share all you know!

Practice your talk aloud. This is a tough discipline, but your talk will sparkle, and you will eliminate un-needed words.

Work hard on your opening. Your audience will decide if they want to listen within a few seconds. Don’t “warm up” by telling a joke or saying how glad you are to be here. What is your first line? Dive in.

Stop speaking when your audience still wants to hear a little more!


Scott Morton, International Funding Coach
Contact Scott via email at

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