Home » Liberating Presentations: Rethinking the Role of Agenda Slides

Now, more than ever, presentations need to obsess about captivating an audience. Everything – and I mean everything – needs to be questioned in the pursuit of audience engagement and the resulting actions that your presentation delivers.

In a world of shorter attention spans and tighter schedules, any noise, clutter or distraction can prove fatal in connecting with audiences. Less is more.

So what could life look like without the ubiquitous agenda slide?


Instead of wasting valuable time on a slide that merely lists topics to be covered, imagine launching directly into a compelling story, an intriguing question, or an attention-grabbing statistic. By ditching the agenda slide, you create an atmosphere of curiosity and intrigue, setting the stage for a memorable presentation.

In our Audience Pathway Model story structure, we call this the Establish Phase. The power of an audience-centric hook is remarkable – when delivered correctly, you can actually see the audience lean forward, keen to learn more.

When was the last time an agenda slide did that?


While agenda slides were traditionally used as navigational tools within a presentation, they often lead to presenter-audience engagements becoming mechanical and stilted. So what if we broke free from the constraints of the agenda slide and embraced the more organic flow of a presenter-audience conversation?

Sure, this doesn’t work for every presentation type, but more intimate presentations come alive when you lose the confines of a set agenda. Presenters are able to adapt content in real-time, responding to their audience’s needs and questions. It gives us a license to move from scripted monologue to engaging dialogue and a step closer to the nirvana of a conversational presentation!


Let’s face it – agenda slides are predictable. In fact, they have a knack of sucking the lifeblood out of a presentation before you’ve even started. It’s akin to starting a joke with a punchline – there’s nothing to keep your audience interested.

By strategically omitting the agenda slide, you can introduce unexpected elements, unexpected stories, or even interactive components (yes – we’re back to conversational presentations again) that leave a lasting impression. Keeping your audience on their toes not only creates a memorable experience but also sparks curiosity and opens up opportunities to dig deeper.


My recommendation? Be brave. Try new things.

Oh, and accept that you won’t always get it right, but stepping outside of the constraints of the agenda slide is a good and relatively safe place to start. By freeing you and your presentation, you’re going to be much better placed to embrace new approaches that better serve your audience. Your presentations will become more fluid, more audience-centric, more story-led and, yes, more effective.

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