We all understand that story telling is a better way to get an idea across than reading out bullet point after bullet point. Still, most presentations happen in a business context. And in business, people do not have the patience a movie audience has (15 versus 90 minutes).

One approach I use to plan a story flow for a business presentation is anticipating the next question of a smart audience. Each pitch, each situation, each industry, each vertical, each country, each type of meeting has their own sequence of questions:

  • What is it they actually do?
  • Will it work?
  • Why is this a big deal?
  • Why has this not been done before?
  • Can they pull it of?
  • Can people game the system?
  • Will anyone sign up for this?
  • What happens if Google enters the market tomorrow?
  • Can they make money?
  • Will people pay for this?
  • Can they sell it?
  • Are they focused enough?
  • How financially stable are these guys?
  • Do I like these people?
  • What is the accent?
  • When is lunch?
  • Do they have data to prove it?
  • Why did no one else invest?
  • Isn't this exactly the same as the idea I heard last week?
  • How can a 25 year old make this happen?
  • Can it scale?
  • Will the government agree to this?
  • What if a "Black Swan" event happens?
  • Why is she not answering my question?

Text book structures for business presentations follow a generic, logical sequence of questions. Your pitch might have to deviate from that.