Author Curtis Fletcher
I am old enough to have lived through the rise of the Internet. Back in those early days, when some suggested this thing was just a fad soon to go the way of the television western, the terms “internet”, “world wide web”, and “information super highway” were used synonymously. Prior to the intrusion of this Infobahn into our daily moment by moment there were only three sources of information that were readily available to the general populace: the phonebook, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the public library…and the latter was the easiest place to find the former two.
The explosion of enlightenment that has occurred with the waxing of the web has deeply impacted nearly every area of our lives. We have more facts and figures at our fingertips today than could possibly be used in a multiplicity of lifetimes. So it comes as no surprise that those who step up to the present day pulpit, be it religious, political, or corporate, afflict us with more anecdotes, stun us with more studies, and smother us with more statistics than ever before.
Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE a good illustration. I have been teaching people to use them for decades. But as an audience member in each of the three aforementioned arenas I can often easily sniff out when the speaker began their preparation with: “I must be sure to use this story”, or “We need to be sure we say something about…”, or “They need to know how good/smart/efficient/expert/better than the competition we are”.
Allow me to suggest that if you REALLY desire to have a deep impact on your audience you should start your preparation with two simple questions:
- What do I want my audience to do?
- Do I need to convince them to do it or do I need to train them how?
Allow me to further suggest that should you venture to give this rarefied approach a go, three essential benefits will ensue:
1. It will force you to put your purpose first thus simplifying preparation
Starting with these two simple questions will literally, with practice, allow you to capture any length presentation in a single sentence. No matter if that presentation is a five minute impromptu testimonial or a thirty-seven chapter book. In this age of information overload defining a discreet purpose allows you to eliminate the extraneous and focus on that which will be most effective in driving home your purpose.
2. It will force you to put your audience first thus connecting you more deeply to their need
These two questions, and especially that nagging second one, force you to examine what you know about your audience. If you allow it to it will become the voice in your preparation that brings you back to their perspective. You won’t have to search for the “perfect opening joke” to attempt to connect; you’ll be connected and connecting throughout.
3. It will force you to focus on outcomes thus bringing clarity and focus to your communication
I recently consulted with a gentleman who was looking to create a strategy for his online content. He was somewhat befuddled as to how to capture everything he MIGHT have in his arsenal to talk about and distilling it down into something to which his audience might subscribe. His options were so broad that he was all over the board.
By starting with these two questions we spent one 30 minute phone call and two email exchanges and came up with a content roadmap that will serve him for an entire year. The presentations nearly are writing themselves as he uses this mechanism to focus the vast information and experience he already has in his own head.
If you want to move an audience provide them with a clear destination and convince them why they should make the journey or help them know how to get there. Do this, and you’ll see and feel the difference in your preparation, your delivery, and your results.
How do you begin preparing your presentations today?
Do you find it difficult to package everything you have into the right timeframe or word count?
Would you like to learn an easier way to create presentation with laser-like focus? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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Curtis is a speaker, coach, and grandiose pontificator who regularly consults with large organizations on topics ranging from customer experience to the Internet of Things. He has a passion for helping people create wow moments for their audiences and customers. When he is not coaching someone in communications or marketing he can often be found preparing for his next half marathon, something he finds terribly perplexing.