Effective Speaking: What’s Your Point?

When you are putting together a presentation, it is absolutely critical that you have a “point.” That is, you must make certain that you and the audience know why you are speaking, why they are listening, and what they can expect to take away.

For example, I will do presentations where the whole point is to show people how to improvise with the unexpected events in their lives. Fred will often do seminars on how to package and sell the information you already have in your head Everything we then do in our talks reinforces or explains that one main point.

This idea of having a clearly defined point to your speech is

  • Incredibly simple
  • All too often overlooked

It is so simple that you may find it hard to believe that people create presentations that lack a central point. If so, think back to the last time you were listening to a speaker and you thought to yourself, “what the heck is he/she talking about?”

And that is the primary problem with not having a clearly defined point to your speech: you risk losing the audience. If the audience understands what your speech is about and you make it clear how everything you are talking about supports your main point, they will follow you from start to finish. If you just throw a series of ideas at them that are seemingly disconnected, they will get confused, lost, and let their minds wander.

Think back to when you learned to write papers in elementary school. You were probably taught that your introductory paragraph should end with a thesis statement, which was just a statement of your position or argument. Apply the same approach to your presentations. Before you start creating an outline, coming up with examples, and creating PowerPoint slides, be able to clearly articulate what exactly the point of your speech is.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you clarify what your point is:

  • What do I want the audience to do differently when they leave?
  • What do I want this audience to learn as a result of my presentation?
  • Why was I, specifically, asked to speak?
  • If I only had one-tenth the time, what would I say?

Do this, and your presentations will be much stronger and much more well received.

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