Keeping On Point

A speaker begins a presentation. He doesn't do a great job on the introduction, so you don't get his name, but whutevs. This meeting is supposed to be about new timekeeping rules, right? Now, there's a slide of a dog on the screen. Now he's telling some story about his grandfather in the Army. What are we doing here?

We've all attended a presentation like this, where it's frustratingly difficult to figure out what should be the most basic of basic questions: “WHY ARE WE HERE?”

Now, we should credit the above speaker for trying to find common ground with the audience (lots of people have dogs) and make it personally relatable (lots of people have grandpas and grandpa stories).  But we always have to remember that our personal stories and touches are meant to serve a point. And the point needs to come before the diversions. So don't be like that guy.

Instead, when planning your speech, make a list of the points you absolutely have to get across. Then summarize all of those points into a sentence or two. Once you have those, you have the skeleton of your speech and you have a barebones introduction to it.

With these established, now you can find personal stories and visual aids which help to illustrate your points. But don't go overboard. “Brevity is the soul of wit,” a certain long-winded Shakespearean character, who couldn't take his own advice, once said. The diversions you make are necessary. They forge a crucial connection between the points, the audience, and you, putting a human face on the material. Just keep your points your first priority and don't let them get obscured by any of the devices you use to keep your audience engaged.

The ability to structure your ideas and play off of them is a skill we can help you hone at MUSE. Contact us now to get a free assessment.