should a presentation have an agenda

Should a Presentation Have an Agenda?

During our college placements, each organization gave an introductory presentation of how their organization worked – their products, goals, and vision.  

Though we loved getting to know about the company, we were more interested in the interview process and the perks.

While a few companies gave us an overview of the presentation in their first two slides, most of them presented an hour-long presentation about its goals and mission and then explained the interview process.

Either way, we got a general idea in the end. But when the presentation’s agenda was discussed at first, it gave us a general overview during those few minutes.

And that’s what we’ll be discussing in this post.

Should a presentation have an agenda or a table of contents? Yes, mainly because it helps get a brief summary of the topics covered. It’s like a dry run for the main part of your presentation. Only if your presentation is extremely short or less in terms of information can you avoid including an agenda.

Here’s a quick rundown of why a presentation should have an agenda slide.

What is an Agenda or Table of Contents in a Presentation?

What is an Agenda or Table of Contents in a Presentation?

Before getting to know the ‘why’ of having an agenda slide, let’s find out ‘what’ exactly an agenda slide is. 

Your agenda slide is a slide consisting of a list of contents covered in your presentation. It tells the audience what to expect by the end of the presentation.

With this, the audience can quickly skim through the contents and understand the areas covered. 

Let me ask you a quick question.

How often have you watched videos without looking at the duration?

You involuntarily check the title of the video and the video length before playing it, right?

In a way, that itself is an agenda as it gave you an idea of how long you need to watch to get value out of it. The same applies to a presentation.

Why It’s Important to Have an Agenda?

Once I attended a talk by a prominent personality in my college. Thinking it might go on for a couple of minutes or at the most an hour, I sat among the audience.

While the first few minutes were informative, the next 3 hours were repetitive and boring. And mind you, it went on for three whole hours.

I had to reschedule my plans that day. If only the speaker had included an agenda slide in his presentation.

This is what happens when you don’t explain the agenda. I sat there waiting for the next valuable information every second, which never really happened.

So, let’s see why it’s important to have an agenda here.

The Audience Will Know What to Expect

Adding an agenda slide will let your audience know the value provided during the presentation.

It helps direct their thoughts and keep them informed.

It Helps Structure your Presentation

While it not only helps the audience, having agenda slide will help you manage time and structure your presentation accordingly.

Including an agenda slide is perfectly fine, but If you’re finding it hard to manage time during your speech or cover the topics mentioned in your agenda, check out the 11 Steps to Help you Keep Time During your Presentation written by us!

What is The Most Effective Way to Introduce Your Agenda?

Some presenters straight away go to the agenda slide and explain the contents.

But a few explain the agenda verbally without the slide after compelling introduction.

So, how often have you come across speakers who don’t do both?

There are presenters who do not give a gist of their presentation and keep the audience hanging till the end.

That’s not an effective way to present either. Your audience is present to gain value and you need to tell them what they’re getting from your presentation.

Though not all presentation settings need an agenda slide, it’s essential for some.

Let’s see more about it and the most effective way to introduce your agenda here.

1. Know if you Really Need an Agenda Slide

Not all presentations require an agenda slide. If you’re presenting a story, you don’t need an agenda slide.

Business and other formal presentations should have this slide.

If you’re conducting a Q&A session in the end, mentioning it in your agenda slide can help your audience.

Know when to include it in your presentation.

2. Start with a Powerful Hook

Instead of going to the agenda slide straightaway, draw your audience by adding a compelling hook and pique their interest.

Start your introduction with a fact, story, statistics, or an intriguing line.

If you’re unsure how to start your speech, check out our article on 15 Powerful Speech Opening Lines (And How to Create Your Own)

3. Explain the Agenda Slide

Once you’ve added the hook, you can either explain your agenda slide verbally or give a brief outline of the contents on the slide.

This part of your speech should be crisp and brief. Never explain in-depth of the slide or keep it lengthy.

You might lose your audience in the very beginning doing so.

How to Create an Agenda Slide?

Agenda slides with plain pointers on white background looks drab. To make it more interesting, follow the steps:

Keep it audience centered. Instead of writing topics you will be covering, write about your audiences’ pain points and how you’re going to solve them.

Get creative and unleash your design skills. Come up with a gorgeous slide with transition effects and stunning images.

Write a good copy and summarize each point in a single line. Don’t make the texts too robotic, humanize the texts. Keep it relatable to the audience.

Let’s take a look at the below agenda slide here.

agenda slide

I’ve created a basic slide using PowerPoint. It’s super simple easy to grasp for people.

I have used the “Shapes” tool under the “Insert” tab to create circles and line arrows.

You can change the background as you see fit. You can add or delete any of the sections as per your speech.

Here, the first section is the “introduction.” The next comes the “problem” section where you’ll be addressing the pain points on the topic. The third section is “solution” where you give your take on the topic.

And lastly, you let the audience know that there will be a QnA session and you’ll be answering all their questions in the end and not in between your speech.

If you’re preparing slides for a business meeting, add the duration above the line arrows to be more precise to your audience.

You can use any shapes and tools to prepare one. All in all, it should convey what your speech is about in a single deck.

Types of Agenda Slide To Include in a Presentation

presentation agenda slide

While there are different ways to design your agenda slides, they convey the same thing.

You can design your own agenda slide and make it attractive.

You can also position your agenda slide vertically, horizontally, add time-frames, or add focus points.

It can be any template. But, ensure you explain the agenda and stick to it during your presentation.

Examples of Agenda Slides

Example 1: Here, the slide is super simple with minimalist design which is easy to quickly glance and understand. It’s vertically aligned where the content is displayed step-by-step which makes it easier for the audience to know the flow of the presentation.

presentation agenda example 1

Example 2: This is another simple agenda slide with six actions presented during the session. It follows a horizontal structure. Within just six steps, your audience will know what to expect during your presentation. It’s easy to understand with minimal text.

presentation agenda example 2

Example 3: This is a highlight slide where the top five highlights of your speech can be displayed. You can keep it structured or highlight the key elements of your speech here. Displaying the key elements is also a good strategy. It helps the audience get what they’re looking for.

presentation agenda example 3

Example 4: Until and unless it’s a formal business meeting, the duration of the topics is not included. But this is another type of agenda slide used during presentations. If you’re a keynote speaker presenting for the first half of the session, you might want to include this slide to let your audience know about the session.

presentation agenda example 4

If you want to know more about agenda template designs, here are the 30 Best PowerPoint Agenda Slide Template Designs to include in your next presentation.

Another crucial thing to keep in mind – deliver what you mentioned.

You might deceive your audience if you don’t deliver what you promised in your agenda slide.

Presenters, either include too much content in the table of contents and fail to time their presentation to cover all the areas or include too little content and over-deliver without covering the primary topics.

Keeping your presentation crisp that covers all the topics specified in the agenda will do the tricks.

Concluding Thoughts

Without agenda slides, you will leave the audience clueless or they might wander off in a web of thoughts if they don’t get what they came for.

Providing value to your listeners is crucial and a quick break up of the presentation helps the audience know what they are offered.

It’s a great way to carry forward your presentation in formal settings.

Hrideep Barot is the founder and chief writer at Frantically Speaking, a portal to help people learn everything about public speaking. The purpose of franticallyspeaking.com is to showcase the lessons that he has learned (and still learning) from his numerous stage experiences and mentors over all these years.