Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Purpose, Process, Payoff, Time

I’m making this post to help me internalize a key concept from a recent training. I learn concepts better when I write a post on it. In this post, the concept is how to better engage with your audience using Purpose, Process, Payoff, Time concept. This post will take you through each part of the concept and show you an example application.

If you have questions at any point, please send me a comment through my contact page. My goal is to show you is explain Purpose, Process, Payoff, Time and how to use it to help you engage you audience in the next presentation you give.

This article is less than 1000 words long so it will take less than five minutes of your time.

Note: Purpose, Process, Payoff, and Time is an intellectual property of the Paradigm Group in Fairfield, CT

Foreigners in a Procession source


I attended a McCormick Media training on giving better presentations and the most important thing I learned to improve all of my presentations:

Have a Purpose, Process, Payoff, and Time integrated into the presentation.

This seems so trivial once presented and this is a missing link between a good presentation and a great presentation. I definitely want to have this as part of every presentation I make going forward.

What is Purpose, Process, Payoff, Time?

It’s key points to include in a presentation to set expectations with the audience for the presentation they will be part of. Let’s go through each part separately.


First, Purpose answers “why” questions for the audience:

  • Why am I here?
  • Why is this presentation happening?
  • Why is this person presenting?

I find why questions great, as they are the toughest to answer, but once answered, everything else falls into place.


Next, the Process part answers “how” questions:

  • How will the presentation go?
  • How to ask questions?
  • How will the speaker achieve their purpose?
  • How are breaks handled?
  • How will the meeting go?

Answering why and how questions sets up strong presentation foundation. It’s also the next most complex questions to answer.


Thirdly, the Payoff statement answers possible “what” questions:

  • What’s in this for me as a participant?
  • What is this presentation about?
  • What makes this presentation or topic important?

A final part to the foundation building by answering why and how questions is answering what questions. Of the three, I would consider this to be trivial after having the first two covered.


The last question to answer is Time, one of the most important resource for everyone.

  • When will this presentation finish?
  • What’s the duration of the presentation?
  • When is the next break?
  • When is lunch?
  • When will I be able to check my computer/phone/messages?

There is one caveat with Time the other parts do not:

No matter what, stick to your time commitments!

By sticking to time commitments you make with the audience on time, you build trust with them that enhances the experience. If they can trust you to keep your time commitments, they can trust you on your Purpose, Process, and Payoff

How to use it?

Including the Purpose, Process, Payoff, Time details at the beginning of your presentation with their own slides for each item is a good idea as it sets the right pacing and demonstrates its importance to you and the audience.


Even though I said Purpose, Process, Payoff, Time is for a presentation, I find the best presentations build from a great article. So, let’s apply this concept to an article.

I will take a previous article I wrote and add an introduction using the principle of Purpose, Process, Payoff, Time. The goal is to get a sense of how to integrate it into an article.

Parsing SSH Logs

This was one of my favorite article because the concept came out of unrelated work when I was digging around in SSH logs. Also, this article made me learn UNIX shell tools well enough that I can answer interview questions cold. It was fun to write and read again.


Let’s use each detail as a starting point to help develop each part then put the parts together into a whole.

  • Purpose: To share how to process log files easily in UNIX.
  • Process: I will share my experience processing SSH log files when my server was openly accessible.
  • Payoff: You will learn two things: one to use UNIX utilities, two to never leave your ports open on a server, and how to secure them.
  • Time: Each article at most will be 1000 words and there will be more than one, I project there will be four to cover the whole topic of parsing logs and securing a server.

Putting it together

A new intro that could be at the start of the article:

This set of four articles will share how to process log files in UNIX. I will show how I processed real SSH log files generated by an openly accessible server on the Internet, trust me, the results are surprising.

By reading, you will learn how to use UNIX utilities to process files and see leaving a server open on the internet is not a good idea. I kept each article to around 1000 words each, so each will take about five minutes to read and altogether would be about 20 minutes of your time.


Having these four items up front changes the way I present and also the reception of my presentations. At the same time, applying these concepts to an article helps focus the article further and bring a nice opening to every article I write.

(Did you notice what I did at the beginning? :-) )