Thu 1 Mar 2012
(Photo by Leah Jones)
Now that you’ve clearly identified the goals of your talk (3 questions) and clearly articulated your audience’s “message”, how do you start writing your speech? Since your audience is only likely to remember the beginning and end of a speech in detail, focus 75% of your efforts on the opening/closing of your talk.
The opening will set the expectation for the audience, so don’t waste your opening time thanking people, cracking a joke, or even a brief self-introduction. Hook your audience with an exciting story that they can relate to, that they can envision themselves experiencing first hand. Once people are captivated, then take them on a journey with you (and let them know where you’re heading with your presentation, so they don’t have to guess).
The middle of the speech should continue the opening’s promise of tone/direction. Support your speech with appropriate simple graphics. Slides of images or single words. These images should reinforce your message and give an opportunity to make your abstract words into something visually concrete.
The end of the speech should arrive gently. You want your audience to feel that the “end is near” and that they need to pay attention to your summary/conclusion. It’s disheartening to see a speech end (what feels like) suddenly and the audience scrambling to ask each other for what the speaker just said. Recap the journey you took and remind them of some of the highlights. If you can, provide a final image to lock your presentation around.
Remember that’s it’s better to leave your audience asking for more. Share your best stories. Your best images. Your humanity. Your passion.