Like it or not, if you work in an office environment or go to school, you'll probably have to make a presentation at some point. But creating a great presentation can be challenging, especially when you're short on time or suffering from writers' block.
Luckily, there are lots of ways to get a head start on your presentation outline, and in this article we'll walk through four options for creating a presentation outline and show you several examples of great presentation outlines.
Why should I write a presentation outline?
An outline helps you organize your ideas in a clear and logical way. Instead of getting bogged down on details like formatting or word choice, an outline presents the overarching story of your presentation with just a few main points. This helps to make sure you have a cohesive narrative before you dive in to the nitty gritty work of wordsmithing individual bullet points or selecting the perfect slide theme.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it often is! But spending time writing a great outline will save you time and effort down the road because it will be easier to organize your work and create each slide when you understand how it fits in to the broader presentation.
Here are four ways you can get a start on creating your next presentation outline.
Method 1: Create your outline from scratch
Creating an outline from scratch may sound intimidating if you have never written a presentation outline before, but this is the most straightforward way to get started.
Start by jotting down the three main points you want to make in your presentation. Once you have your main ideas in order, write down a few supporting details and examples for each point.
Then, add an introduction (find an interesting image, quote, or question to help grab the audience's audience) and a conclusion (decide on the best way to summarize the takeaways from your presentation) to the outline, and you are ready to go.
This method is great for those who prefer to have complete control over their presentation and want to create a custom outline that works best for their needs.
Method 2: Create a presentation outline using an AI presentation maker
If you're short on time or looking for a quick way to get a first draft of a presentation outline that you can then refine, using an AI presentation maker is a great option.
Plus AI lets you type a short prompt like "Create a presentation that provides an overview of the Norwegian oil industry," and it will automatically generate an outline of a presentation for you. After Plus creates the outline, you can change the titles of slides, rearrange slides, and remove any pieces of the outline that are not necessary.
From there, once your outline is created, you can click the "Generate presentation" button, choose a template, and let the AI create the first draft of your entire presentation.
This method is a good option for those who want to create a polished presentation without getting stuck with a blank piece of paper. Instead, it frees you up to take a first draft presentation and customize it for your needs.
Method 3: Create a presentation outline using ChatGPT
ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that can help with a wide variety of tasks - everything from acting as a therapist, to sharing recipes, to helping you come up with presentation ideas and creating content for a presentation.
To have ChatGPT help you generate a presentation, you can take two different approaches:
- Use a custom GPT that has been trained to help people create presentations or
- Ask the general ChatGPT interface to "Create a presentation outline for me on the topic of [XYZ]."
Both approaches will yield similar results, but a custom GPT like Plus AI presentation maker will be more fine-tuned to helping people create presentations. It will also provide additional functionality like providing a visual preview of the slides and feedback on how to improve your presentation.
Method 4: Create a presentation outline using a template
Last but not least, using a template is a good way to speed up the process of creating a new presentation outline. Similar to using an AI presentation maker, a template can give you a first draft of an outline that is easier to edit and refine than starting from scratch.
Presentation templates often come pre-designed with example text and images, so all you have to do is fill in your own content. For example, this TED Talk presentation template provides some instructions on how to create an outline for a TED Talk-style slide deck.
The secret to using this method is to find the closest template to the type of presentation you want to create. You should use detailed search terms to and look across multiple sites and resources to find one that matches the content and style that you would like.
Once you have your template, start by reviewing the overall outline or structure and tweak it to meet your needs. Then, you can fill in the specific content (e.g., text and images) with your materials to make it your own to quickly make a beautiful presentation.
Presentation outline examples
Basic presentation outline example
Let's take a look at a presentation outline and accompanying notes for a persuasive presentation on encouraging people to meditate every day:
- Hook - find a striking image and tell a story
- Thesis statement - everyone should meditate for 10 min per day
II. Main point 1 - Meditation is one of the easiest ways to improve your health
- Physical health
- Mental health
III. Main point 2 - Meditation is backed up by thousands of years of practice and research
- One anecdote from antiquity
- One anecdote from recent research
IV. Main point 3 - You can get started with meditation today
- Basic technique
- Tips for newcomers
- Summarize key points
- Call to action
As you can see, this is a relatively lightweight plan for the presentation, but it provides an easy-to-understand framework that we can fill in with slides.
There are rough notes on specific content for the different points in the presentation, but we don't need to write out everything in fine detail, just the broad strokes.
Pitch deck outline example
Now let's review an outline for a pitch deck that someone might use to present their startup idea to prospective investors. This is for a startup that uses autonomous food trucks to deliver meals to people's homes and workplaces.
I. Problem statement - "Food delivery sucks, and here's why"
- Hook - pictures of typical food delivery headaches (e.g., late/no show, bad selection, etc)
II. Value prop - "FoodDrive revolutionizes the food delivery model"
- Compare value chain of FoodDrive to traditional restaurant and delivery service
- Show how $50 order gets allocated to different people
III. The product - "Customers love our trucks"
- Picture of food truck and menu
- Customer quotes and reviews
IV. Why now? - "Our self-driving technology is ready for prime-time"
V. Business model - "Each truck can generate $2-3M of revenue per year with a 60% gross margin"
- Show high-level financial forecasts on unit basis
VI. Competitive landscape - "FoodDrive's closest competitors don't come close"
- Comparison table with delivery services, in-house delivery, eating out-of-home, etc.
VII. Go to market strategy - "We've tested FoodDrive in 2 markets so far. Here's how we win in new markets"
- Overview of social media strategy
- Case study on new market launch
VIII. Team - "Our team has experience in autonomous vehicles, food delivery, and quick service restaurants"
IX. Traction - "We generate $5M of revenue per year with our 2 trucks, and we can ramp up new trucks immediately"
- Show revenue growth chart with focus on time to ramp new trucks to productivity
X. Fundraising goal - "We are raising $50M to expand FoodDrive to 10 more markets"
- Highlight key milestones we aim to reach with additional funding
Even though a pitch deck is a specialized type of presentation that often requires specific content, it's helpful to start with an outline to build out the 'story' behind the content. That way, you have a cohesive story rather than a set of disparate slides.
How can I create a presentation from an outline?
Once you have your presentation outline written, it's time to start writing your slides. Since you already know the main points you are trying to make in your presentation, the main decisions here are
- What type of visual style you want to follow
- How many slides you want in your presentation
- How you will present or share the slides
To get a head start on creating a first draft of your presentation, you could enter your outline into an AI presentation maker.
This will provide a first draft of the slides so that you can focus on making sure they tell a cohesive story or tweaking individual slides to leave a memorable impression.
Other tips and tricks for great presentations
Here are some resources to help you create great presentations:
- Make slides look good - Here are six tips for making visually appealing slides.
- Number of slides - Here is a calculator that can help you calculate how many slides you need for a presentation depending on how long you need to present.
- Unique presentation ideas - Here are 250 ideas for presentation topics that will help you create a great presentation.
Creating a presentation outline can be one of the most time-consuming parts of the creative process for making a new slide deck. Luckily, there are many tools and templates that can help you kickstart this process.
With these four methods, you can choose the one that works best for your needs and get started on your presentation outline today.
And once you have your outline, make sure to try out a tool like Plus AI presentation maker to quickly get your slides as well!