Winging it rarely comes across as well to the audience as it does to the speaker. That’s because adrenaline literally makes the speaker feel better and rate the speech higher. The solution is to prepare. Take these steps:
1. Nail down your core message. Come up with one sentence that sums up what you’re trying to convey. Remember: No matter what, your audience will come away with a message.You want it to be the one you intend.
2. Drum up supporting ideas, anecdotes and data. Test it all against the core message. Ruthlessly eliminate anything that doesn’t support it.
3. Fit your raw material into one of these structures:
- Position/Reason/Example/Position. State your core message, give your backup information, provide a compelling example, and close by restating your position.
- Past/Present/Future tells a story in time. It basically predicts success by recounting past victory.
- Problem/Cause/Solution. You state the problem, analyze the cause and recommend a way to fix it. This format mimics the natural thought process of the business world, which is all about solving problems. It’s the way most of us think day to day, so it works in presentations.
- Attention/Interest/Desire/Action. This structure works best in persuasion. Grab the audience’s attention with a statistic or story surprising enough to move them from their concerns to yours. Raise their interest by touting the benefits to them of the position you’re advocating. If you do that well, you’ll create a desire to behave, buy or think differently. Close by soliciting a commitment from your audience (the “action”).
- Tell x 3. This is “Tell ’em what you’re going to say, tell ’em, then tell’ em what you said.” It’s the most conventional structure, but today’s audiences are impatient, so if you use this form, keep the first two parts high-level and brief.
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