Over the course of my 25 years instructing attorneys, business executives, politicians and others I have learned some of the comments that I can expect when we start. And one I am almost certain to hear is that they don’t need any help crafting their message and just want to focus on delivery.
And I can say just as certainly that I have never met a client that didn’t need to work on crafting their message.
Everyone needs help with organization and message construction. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s a universal thing. Which means that even if you’re reading this right now and feeling inclined to clock out for a bit, I’m going to recommend that you pay more attention, rather than less.
You know less — and more — than you think
The reason people trip up when organizing their presentations is that most people have never been trained to create speeches. Whether your background is in business, education, politics or law, chances are the emphasis has been put on the goals you want to achieve with your speech, or the facts you want to impart. But not at the mechanics of writing and organizing your speech.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that you may know more than you think – you just don’t know that the knowledge is applicable. Many professionals have learned the basics of writing an essay. But for some reason, a lot of folks think that the standard organization pattern used in essay writing doesn’t apply to creating a presentation. But it does – at least for most presentations and definitely for legal and business presentations.
3 things every speech needs
So whereas you might be tempted to either start with the facts or lead with your favorite anecdote and trust your luck, you need to remember the old adage: Be brilliant at the basics. Don’t start taking shortcuts and going on side-trips if a direct, intelligent approach would work better. Or, to be more specific:
- You really do need an introduction, a conclusion and a body in your speech.
- You really do need transitions.
- You really do need main points and sub-points that logically flow, even if those sub-points are simply examples or explanations.
I realize that all that doesn’t just sound daunting – it sounds boring. Too bad. If you want to make a strong, effective speech, you have got to buckle down and deal with the hard work of organizing your presentation in the first place.