presenting across cultures

4 Ds of Presentations

Do you know the 4 Ds?

You are a good presenter — you are engaging, funny and energetic. You like the challenge of speaking in public and you are good at it. Yet you have the feeling sometimes that you could be doing more or doing things differently.  There are some situations in which you connect better to the audience than others and you feel you can do better.  You can do this by paying attention to the 4 Ds:

Contact us now hbspt.cta.load(455190, ‘7813087e-b095-4d57-a251-222b117a6cc4’, {});

Development – Design – Delivery – Debriefing

The 4 Ds of presentations


There is no “one size fits all” solution for what to do to make a good presentation. Success depends on the audience and the situation as to what techniques are more likely to work and what aren’t.  That’s where the first D comes in, Development. In this sense, development means developing your understanding of the context of your presentation before moving on to designing the content. The more special the situation or presentation is for you, the more time you should invest in understanding what may happen before it does. Are key decision makers warm to the idea you are presenting or not? Does the audience have mixed opinions? What goals unite you and the audience in ways they can appreciate? Is the audience expecting a lot of data? How formal or informal do they expect you to be? Knowing the answers to these and other questions can lead to a refined message and different design and delivery behaviors than you may be used to.


You know the importance of a good looking presentation. Many companies recognize the importance of presentation design so much that they hire professional designers to produce them. That means sometimes presenters are asked to present presentations they didn’t personally create. Often they are produced to fill a function, like introducing your company, not meet the needs of a specific audience. Generic presentations mean the presenter needs to work harder to make the material relevant to their audience.  The key in design is, if the information shared is important to the audience, they will pay attention to it. The best format helps but the relevance of the information makes the difference.


Certain delivery techniques can help us deal with the prepackaged design situation effectively. We can draw our audience’s attention to a special part of a slide by using a pointer and the phrase “Let me draw your attention to…” if there is too much information on the slide. You can tell stories to bring meaning to data and you can relate charts and graphs to the experiences of your audience without changing a slide. The results of your development work will point you in the best direction. If you need to do something for the audience that is outside of your comfort zone: practice, practice, practice. The more you practice a different style the more comfortable you will become.


Getting feedback from your audience about your presentation is important to continual process improvement. This means getting feedback solely about the presentation itself and not its outcome. This can be difficult to do yet there are some ideas worth considering. Have a third party write down the audiences’ questions for review after the presentation. Ask audience members about specific delivery behaviors you are working on, like eye contact, controlling your movements and how you use your hands rather than simply asking them what they thought of the presentation.

Increase your chance of success

The 4 Ds of presentations; Development, Design, Delivery and Debriefing, can help you tailor your presentations to specific audiences and make the appropriate adjustments in your style to increase your chances of success. Let us know some of your experiences in the comments area below.


Here are just a few posts for you to explore if you want to learn more on this topic.