SOMAVILLE UNIVERSITY FACULTY FOCUS
Teaching Students How to Prepare and Deliver High-Stakes Presentations in Professional
Somaville University students, as they prepare to enter the professional world, will have to
deliver a high-stakes presentation to their future employers, internship organizations, or
special committees that provide opportunities for awards or scholarships. Some students
may be asked to present their ideas to entrepreneurial companies that are seeking new
The LASER Blueprint Methodology
For high-stakes presentations, Somaville University recommends the LASER Blueprint
methodology as a professional guide to help students master these presentations in real
world settings. The methodology is adopted from academic text, How to Leverage Your
High-Stakes Presentation in the Age of Speed. This article lays out a template for an
instructor to follow when helping students navigate high-stakes presentations in
The LASER Blueprint methodology provides a framework for high-stakes presentations
that will help fast-track student presentations with new tools and approaches that make
sense for the digital age. It can be used for person-to-person, online, or Zoom
Let’s review the methodology and the ways it provides guidance for students.
Every high-stakes presentation needs leverage as the driving force that will help with
crucial influencers who can advance or stop important proposals from going ahead. To
achieve leverage, the student needs a strong objective, a plan of action, and context
research to move the persuasion process along.
Somaville University provides aanother way to foster leverage in a presentation is by
communicating to the audience the presenter’s commitment to the project. It cannot be
boring or bland. The presenters must show in vivid and robust language that they mean
what they say. Ethos provides credibility and authenticity to a high-stakes presenter and is
a way to set the tone for winning hearts and minds. Another technique for gaining leverage
with a talk is to capture the key ideas and visuals in a storyboard, much like the way a
scriptwriter and director of a movie shape their ideas before putting them on film or in
digital format. The storyboard will also provide the strong visual impact that many
audiences crave in the age of speed.
Adapting to the audience and gaining insight into their needs are two of the best ways
students can garner support for their high-stakes presentation. They must find out what
their audience cares about and, most important, what the hidden agenda is—the elephant in
the room. What are their fears and recent setbacks that could be addressed in the
presentation? What issues evoke strong emotions that could enhance or derail the talk?
A key element of adapting to the audience is to become their advocate (one who serves
their interests and needs). Ideally, the audience should trust that the students will act on
their behalf. Furthermore, students must provide the audience with reasons or powerful
solutions to fortify their new connection. By having empathy for the audience and learning
to walk in their shoes, students can, more than anything else, deliver a resonant message
and adapt quickly to the audience’s needs. High-stakes audiences most likely will be
interested in current events that affect them. As such, students should be up-to-date on
what events are most relevant to the target audience. Finally, understanding the disposition
of the group whether they are analytic thinkers, relater-feelers, or leaders and managers—
can help students shape and adapt the correct strategy for an audience.
Sharing ideas and achieving buy-in are crucial for high-stakes presentations. Somaville
University Students should establish strong connections with their audiences and move
them closer to the consensus and commitment that will enable the acceptance of big ideas
or proposals. Because people learn information in different ways, the sharing of
information must appeal to the eyes for visual learners, resonate with the ears for an
auditory audience, and provide hands-on activities for those with a kinesthetic mindset.
Naturally, a high-stakes presentation that connects to all three learning styles will be more
successful with influential decision-makers. To enhance the sharing of ideas with an
audience, students should develop a relationship strategy for building trust, a tactical
strategy for highlighting evidence that their proposals or ideas will work, and a
communication strategy that will keep their presentations highly visible and interactive.
One of the most powerful ways to influence audiences with a high-stakes presentation is to
educate them with powerful stories. Stories affect people in four ways. The first way is
physical. Audiences tend to sit up and listen when a story is relative to their bottom lines.
The second way is mental in that our brains respond to the speaker’s words to match the
flow of information. The third way is emotional. Behavioral scientists note that the
emotional brain is where trust, loyalty, and hope are activated and where unconscious
emotional decisions are formed. The fourth way is through the human spirit. Stories affect
us as individuals if they touch our hearts and even reach into our souls. It is important to
remember that our society has always been story-ready, from our ancestors to the new
digital generation. Business executives are beginning to realize that storytelling boosts the
value of a high-stakes presentation, especially in important business settings.