How to Create an Engaging Presentation Outline

Do you know the first step to a successful presentation? It’s an exceptional outline! 

To create an engaging presentation outline, you must focus on the audience, the topic, and its purpose.

Think of your outline as a tourism guidebook. Most tourists have little or no information on the sites in the cities they want to visit. They neither know what to expect, where to go, nor how to navigate the locations.

This is where a guidebook comes in. The book may not supply all the intricate details or capture the ecstatic feeling that an in-person visit gives you.


However, it provides information on what to expect when you visit the location. So, a location may be a dream destination, but whether or not the tourist visits depends on the information in the guidebook.

Here, your audience is the tourists, you are the tour guide, and your outline is the guidebook. So, it would be best if you had a killer outline to draw your audience into taking the journey with you.

Here is a guide on creating an engaging presentation outline, thus making your next presentation a breeze.

Steps to Take In Outlining a Presentation

To create an engaging presentation outline, you will need to consider your audience, purpose, main points, and the order in which you will present your information.

You will also want to ensure that your presentation is visually appealing and easy to follow. After that, the last step is putting the outline together.

You can outline your presentation on paper or with writing software. If you intend to host using a slideshow, we recommend you write the outline in a word document and transfer it onto the slides when you’re finished.

This will help you properly organize and format each theme in the outline.

presentation outline

To help you create the presentation outline, we have outlined a step-by-step guide to ease the stress on you. These steps in this guide take you from the planning to the finishing stages of outline creation.

Step 1: Establishing the Purpose

Planning is crucial because it sets the stage for how the entire outline turns out.

In the planning phase, you get to brainstorm and research the subject matter of your presentation. In addition, you get to know your audience and the purpose of your writing.

The first step in planning for your outline is establishing the purpose of your presentation. This means that you must decide on the end goal that you want to achieve with your presentation.

Think of purpose as the foundation of a building, the latter being your outline. Your outline will lack direction and flavor if you don’t get the purpose right.


Ask yourself these questions:

  • What problem do I want to solve?
  • What solution am I providing?
  • What message do I want to relay to the audience?
  • After presenting, what action do I want the audience to take?
  • Do I want to educate, inspire, motivate, entertain, or convince?

The goal will vary depending on the subject matter and the setting in which you’ll make the presentation.

For instance, the goal of a tutor’s presentation may be to educate, while a salesman will aim to convince or inspire a certain action.

In that case, the content of their outlines varies by a wide margin. However, the purpose will serve as a roadmap for your outline content.

Write down whatever ideas come to your mind so you can refer to them later. This will come in handy in the execution phase.

Pro-Tip: The purpose should be very specific, and one or two lines are ideal. Just ensure that you can exhaust it within the timeframe given to you.

Step 2: Deciding on the Themes

After you have set the purpose of your outline, the next step is to pick the main themes that will convey this purpose.

While the topic gives a summary, the themes help you feed the audience with one idea per time.

To choose the themes, think of related ideas that will enable you to explain your topic. Also, choose ideas necessary for the audience to understand the topic better.

Ideally, you should have three to four themes; choose the main theme out of these. The primary function of the main theme is to provide a solution to the problem in the topic. 

The main theme should be a very strong point and stronger than the first 2 or 3 themes.


For instance, if you’re to write an outline on Content Writing and Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), the outline's goal would be to educate the audience on how Google decides what content appears on result pages.

Here, the themes could be, Search Engine Optimization, Google Indexing and Ranking, On-page SEO, and SEO Best Practices. The main theme would be SEO best practices because it gives the audience a solution.

In this case, it shows them ways they can optimize their content such that it stands a chance to appear on SERPs. Your last theme is very important because it is the last thing the audience will hear, and it stays on their mind longer.

Next to where you wrote the purpose, write out your ideas for your themes. After that, choose the three or four points that better convey your purpose.

Step 3: Knowing the Audience

The next step is to know the audience you’ll be presenting to. This is crucial because knowing your audience gives you direction on what to include and how to structure your outline.

To do this, you can start by answering the following questions:

  • How much does my audience know about this topic?
  • What are their current needs?
  • What do they want to hear?
  • Do they have any reservations or fears?

Answering these questions will guide you in the beginning and structuring the outline.

Using the previous example, if your audience does not know SERPs, you can start by explaining what they are. Then, you go on to address the concept of SEO and how it works.

Step 4: Brainstorming and Researching

After you decide on the purpose, choose your themes, and review your audience, you should begin your research.

This includes brainstorming on subpoints you may want to include in the outline. It also involves fact-checking and finding solutions to your audience’s problems.

In the workplace, you can ask other workers for feedback on the topic. You can also share ideas with family and friends to understand what the audience wants to hear.

Now you’ve done more than 50% of the work. Let’s move on to the execution phase!

Step 5: Creating the Outline Structure

At this point, the execution begins properly. Here, you draft the outline structure and decide on the design. This involves drafting an introduction, body, and conclusion.

The outline structure here refers to the order the presentation will follow. Deciding on a structure is vital because it allows you to connect one idea to another. When this is in place, it gives the outline a steady rhythm and makes it engaging. 

The typical structure for a presentation outline is Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.

The Introduction

This is the first statement in your presentation, and it serves as a hook to draw the audience in. You just need to make sure that the bait is enticing.

Ideally, your introduction should be attention-grabbing. You can ask a question or tell a story related to the presentation. This helps build some connection with the audience.

In addition, you can also briefly preview the ideas that you will talk about in the presentation.

You might also like: 10 Ways to Start a Speech to Engage Your Audience


The introduction is where trust is built so that you can introduce your credentials in a fun way. You can relay your experience or tell the audience what qualifies you to discuss the topic.

Above all, it should be clear and also reflect the message you want to pass on.

To end the introduction, use a statement that will serve as a smooth transition to your first theme.

We advise that your draft the introduction last. This is to ensure that you only include what is in the body of the presentation.

The Body

The Body contains the main themes of your presentation.

First, list your themes, with the main theme coming last. 

Secondly, add the sub-points you wish to include under the themes. While themes help you stay on track with your topic, sub-points keep you on track with the themes.

Here, include transition words that let you flow easily from one point to another or from one theme to another.

Another thing you should add to the body is the essential details from your research.

Include the facts, statistics, or other points that can help drive home your message. Citing authorities like these will add credence to your presentation.

Also, include specific details like dates, analogies, locations, or names you want to reference in the outline.

Typically, presentations last within a specific timeframe, so you can allocate timers to each point to manage time.

The Conclusion

This is the end of your presentation outline, and just like the introduction, it should be strong.

Your conclusion should include a summary of the topic and the themes. In addition, it should convey the solution to the problem or have a call to action.

A call to action encourages your audience to take a specific action. It could be to think deeper into the scope of the presentation or buy a certain product or service.


For the concluding part, you should reaffirm the solution that you are providing. The aim here is to satisfy the audience and solve needs related to your presentation.

Related: 12 Ways to End a Presentation the Best Way

Formatting the Presentation Outline

This is the final step, where you arrange your presentation's content using slides. You can format your outline using software templates.

However, you must pay attention to the color and designs.

Presentation Outline Softwares

Many softwares provide templates for presentation outlines. You can browse through the catalog to find the outline template that works best for you. It should suit the content of your presentation.

One such program, and the one we recommend, is Prezentar. Also, you can browse other websites in search of designs, and we are sure you’ll find what appeals to you.

These programs and sites have thousands of templates across niches and topics. Find the layouts with categories that best fit your theme.

Then go ahead to fill up the fields with your content while you look at the outline or slide that contains the entire framework of your presentation!


Outline Visual Design and Color

One of the ways you can effectively pass your message across to your audience is by using visuals. The importance of design cannot be understated.

Using visuals like charts and infographics is a great way to present data, especially if it's a pitch. Some factors include color, text style, slide layouts, and fonts.


You can select the theme, color palette, and slide arrangement in this section of the presentation outline.

Consider the placement of the text and graphics and background placement that best suits the presentation style. You can also use animations and effects to improve your presentation, but do not overdo the visuals, as too much can distract the audience.

Colors have a way of communicating with the audience and creating certain moods. So, choose the colors you want to use on the slides. 

Our Final Thoughts

Creating an engaging presentation outline doesn't have to be painful. Once you know your audience, start developing your presentation outline.

You must consider what will engage your audience, what information to include and how to organize it to keep your audience interested.

Furthermore, knowing your audience and studying the material beforehand also helps you become more confident and help you engage with the audience.

While using visuals like charts, infographics, and other methods, you should also consider how you present the information.

Make sure each section is focused and packed with valuable information. Also, ensure that your visuals support your message and that your overall presentation is polished and engaging.

Once you have crafted your presentation outline, it is time to practice rehearsing it. Here are 7 tips to help you practice your presentation.