“A speech is like a love affair. Any fool can start it, but to end it requires considerable skill.” Lord Mancroft
When working with clients to prepare them for important presentations, I have noticed over the years that they always start at the beginning, and proceed to fill the body of the talk with everything they know or feel that they must tell their audience, in order to engage them.
On movie websites you see similar ambition:
Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy /Science Fiction
Big Hero 6
I would much prefer a simpler message:
How many times have you gone to the cinema and sat through 90+ minutes only to be disappointed at the end?
Speakers attempt to do the same; create a presentation that will address all issues and all audiences in one fell swoop. If only life was so simple, and audiences were so receptive to multiple messages that are not particularly focused on their needs.
When working with my clients to prepare them for an important presentation/pitch, where I want them to start is not where they expect to start.
The questions I want them to answer first are:
- Who is your audience, and, in particular, who in that audience do you want to hear your message?
- The next thing we must focus on is how to end the talk. How will the audience members be better as a result of listening to you and taking your advice?
This presents an immediate problem as most people start preparing their presentations in one of the following ways;
They dig out a previous presentation and start tweaking.
Next, they exhaust themselves filling the body of the talk, then run out of energy and enthusiasm long before giving any thought to how the presentation should end.
I believe all talks must hold the attention of your listeners and point to a solution that will be beneficial to them.
One of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people is:
“START WITH THE END IN MIND”
Great movies, great books, and great talks are a success because of the Director, Writer, Speaker knowing exactly how the film, book or talk is going to end, long before a camera rolls, a word is typed or slide created.
I believe all presentations must start with excitement and end in knowledge.
When your audience sees a clear benefit to them in what you suggest, your next step is a ‘call to action’ which now is much more likely to receive a favourable response.