Absolutely – I fully understand your struggle, and in my opinion this will always be a “case by case decision”. There is no right or wrong answer, no black or white. The answer is clearly: it depends.
It depends on the typical corporate practice in general, on composition, dynamics and expectations of your audience, and also a lot on geographical cultural differences. For instance an Asian audience would typically like to see a conclusion first within the presentation, while a group of Europeans or Americans could possibly be more comfortable when you “catch them by surprise”. Bottom line the twofold challenge will be how to balance here with the storytelling approach (“building up the drama” kind of contradicts “revealing the result right away”), and also how to balance that when you have a mixed audience (of Asian, European, American for instance).
The conclusion can only be to find a compromise, in my opinion … a collaborative compromise between (1) a pre-read before the meeting, (2) a telling opener and agenda in your meeting – plus a repetition of the agenda summing up in a clear solution (and action steps) at the end of the meeting, and (3) an appendix/whitepaper on the side that you can also send after the meeting together with your presentation (and which contains more details and insights that you have not covered in your meeting on purpose). Clearly the overall target of all this must be helping your audience to focus on the key elements and your main message(s), but obviously also please their need to receive enough details and clarity they require.
I hope this helps a little bit to clarify, and I am curious to see useful comments from the community on this sensitive topic and how each of you has found the best solution here. Thank you upfront for sharing it with us!
Have fun telling your story 😊
F-Top Coach /Regine