Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Name Your Purpose and Organize Accordingly

You've identified your purpose, now it is critical to organize your talk specifically for that purpose

The speaker said, "These were my main points, I hope you can look at them and find a few that can help you increase your business."  I thought, "you're kidding."  The slide had 24 numbered items and he had to tell us at the end that these were his main points-24!

I admit to wondering where he was going during his 45 minute talk.  He told a few jokes and had some interesting stories; however, I never did get the point of a single story.  Clearly, he didn't know his audience, his purpose, or his main idea.  I am sure he had one, something to the effect of saying as much as he could in 45 minutes about increasing sales.  Funny thing is, he never said so in those words, I just had to figure it out on my own.

He made some basic mistakes many speakers make:  he couldn't articulate a main idea, he tried to say as much as he could in his time frame, he put it all on Power Point, and he never practiced.

Don't be that guy.

When asked to speak to a group, you must prepare in an organized fashion.  There are many ways to do this depending on the purpose of your talk.  Organizing for persuasive or sales talks are different and come in many different forms based on audience's attitudes and motives.

We'll discuss one basic organization pattern here (in the right circumstances, it can also be used for a persuasive or sales talk too).  It is how to speak when informing on a project, a process, an idea, or explaining.

Organizing one of these talks makes two assumptions:  one, you write the Body of the talk first and add the Introduction and Conclusion later, and two, repetition is the key strategy to communicating your information.  Simply saying it doesn't mean the audience hears it.  In writing reports and articles, this is not a good strategy because people can go back and re-reread if their minds wander, but if they get distracted listening, they can't go back and re-listen.

I call this organization style an "Inside out process."

  1. Figure out about 6-10 points from your memory that you believe are essential to your topic.
  2. Reduce these points to three.  This is the toughest part of preparation when you know your field well; however, you'll do your audience a favor because they can't remember any more points and you can't possible tell all you know in one, two, five, ten, twenty or more hours.  Why do a "data dump" on these unsuspecting folks?
  3. Write out a complete sentence for each of your three main points.
  4. Study those three sentences and write one sentence that would summarize the three points.  Don't put the points in the sentence, simply write a summary sentence. This summary sentence becomes your main idea or "thesis statement."  If you convey this sentence in the introduction of your speech, you will be very clear and effective in your presentation. 
  5. Go back to your main points and build at least two supports for each one depending on the length of your talk.  It can be examples, anecdotes, stories, analogies, pictures, videos, etc.
  6. Write out each support in one sentence.  This becomes the working outline for the body of your talk.
  7. Write the introduction of the talk.  The introduction should have an attention getter, your main idea, and a list of your three main points.
  8. Write the conclusion.  It should restate your main idea, then cover each of the three main points with one example of each.
  9. Write a "Tie-down" to end your talk without having to say thank-you.  It can be an inspiring story or quote or a reference back to your attention getter that signals the end of your talk to the audience.
You write the talk in the following order:  Body with main points and main idea, Introduction including attention getter, main idea, and preview of main points, the Conclusion with main idea, recap of main points from Body with one example, and finally, a Tie-down.

However, when presenting the talk, you deliver it in the following order:  Introduction, Body, Conclusion, and Tie-down.

This process helps your message to be clear to you that in turn will make your talk interesting to an audience and they will remember more.  You will benefit the audience by giving them three clear takeaways that they can also articulate.

It sounds like common sense; however, if it was, we wouldn't be subjected to so many bad presentations.

Rod Mattson
Copyright March 2013 Mattson Communication Training

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