Layer Your Presentation: Research

Layer Your Talk With Passion
(Photo by Sanctu)

A great presentation is layered with many subtle details. Based on my own speaking style and coaching, I use the following steps to develop a layered passionate speech:

Research the audience. Even if someone tells me what they want me to speak about, it’s important to understand who’s likely to hear your talk and why they’d likely be in your audience. Knowing who I’m talking to will allow me to use the right terminology, examples, and tone.

Research the context. Who else will be speaking that day? What are they speaking about? Whose speech will follow yours? Whose speech will precede yours? Knowing about the context will help you to reiterate concepts from previous speakers and give subsequent speakers adequate opportunities to connect with your speech.

Research the content. When being asked to give a speech, this is the first step most people think about. But you need to find the content that best matches your audience and your context. There’s no use sharing complex material with audiences who aren’t deeply familiar with your topic, nor insulting a learned audience by sharing information that’s too simplistic.

Write the draft. Don’t start writing until you’ve done your research. While you can always change your draft later, the more comfortable you are seeing your new paragraphs on the page, the less likely you’ll want to change them. Don’t get too attached to your words and be willing to throw it all away and start again (remember: when you’re restarting, you’re not back at square one).

Find supporting visuals. No matter how good looking you are or fascinating your speech is, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get your audience’s full attention for the entire length of your speech. That’s especially true these days – when people are bored, they won’t hesitate to pick up their smart phone and see what’s interesting elsewhere in the world. Visuals shouldn’t simply reiterate what you’re saying (the worst: reading the slide from the screen). Visuals should add emotional punch. If your visual is too good, it may upstage you!

Next month I’ll cover how to practice your presentation.

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