Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to Structure your Speech or Presentation



Body of Presentation
Recommend writing this first.  Very likely that every other part of presentation will arise from this = the Title of the Presentation, the One Absolute Statement, The Opening, Closing and, of course, the Signpost. 
A suggestion that the Body be in 3 parts – no more. Widely accepted that a speaker can convey three major points and the audience remembers it. Anymore and it could be overload.

Better to keep it simple. And, you don’t have to tell everything you know in the one presentation. Leave the audience wanting to ask questions of you and asking for more information.
There are countless ways to structure the body of the talk. An example might be: General/Specific/For example. Past/Present/Future. Global/National/Local.

Strong, catchy, anything that will capture immediate attention. (Often referred to as the “Hook”).    Must be strong.  Why?  You have only a matter of seconds as the audience makes its decision on whether you are worth their attention.  (And these days there are many distractions).
One Absolute Statement
If you were to summarise your presentation in one sentence it would be this.  Also make sure that everything in the presentation is congruent with this statement.
After, or as part of your opening – connect with the audience by telling them a story – an anecdote – or something personal about yourself.  You see, as you begin your presentation they will be wondering about you – examining your impact and appearance – and wondering what you know about the subject you are about to present.  It will put their minds at rest if you are able to fully connect with them by telling them something personal, funny, or interesting about yourself and your relationship to/with the subject of your talk. 


This is where you tell the audience what you are going to tell them.  If your one absolute statement for example is “Please become an organ donor – sign up today”, you could signpost this by saying “Today I’m going to ask you to sign up to be an organ donor.  I’m going to tell you why, how and when you can be a donor – and at the end of my talk I’m going to ask you to come forward and sign up”.  (Your personal/creative could have been a true and dramatically told story of how one donor’s bequest saved several lives.
Summary:  Summarise key points.  Tell them what you told them.

Call to Action:  What do you want the audience to do when you have finished speaking?  If it’s not much, then why have you wasted your time and theirs?
Example of a Call to Action:  “I’ve described the desperate and urgent need.  I trust I have convinced you of the ultimate gesture a human can make.  Please come forward and sign to become a donor.”
Close:  Thank you for taking the time to consider and understand the powerful good for humanity your action can make. Thank you for coming forward and becoming a donor tonight.
Thank you on behalf of all organ recipients – past, present and future.  Their lives have been, are and will be in your hands.

Recommendation:  Say “Thank You”  by all means – but don’t end with “Thank You”.  It makes a strong ending much less strong.
Got some Tips to add?

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