BIG Presentation Secret No.2: Confirm your core message


So what’s this week’s secret?

Have you ever sat through a presentation that feels disjointed, jumping from one area to the next with no rhyme or reason?

The very best BIG Presentations are logical and structured. They have a common theme and seem to ‘just flow’.

This week’s successful BIG Presentation secret is to always ensure that your presentation has a structure and reason that is clear to your audience.

Audiences love BIG Presentations that are logical and structured, because logical and structured is exactly how we as humans make sense of the world.

We remember and learn things using logic and structure:

• Grouping similar things together to remember them
• Using mnemonics such as “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain” to remember the colours of the rainbow
• Logical, relevant examples and metaphors to aid memory

If we can make our BIG Presentation appear logical and structured, then our audience are much more likely to engage with it and, most importantly, remember it.

So how do we use this secret?

How do we make our BIG Presentation relevant and structured?
The secret to making our BIG Presentation relevant and structured is by ‘signposting’ it for our audience.

You might have heard the old adage about speeches: tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, tell ’em, then tell ’em what you told ’em.

This is signposting.

If our audience understand the structure of our speech, then our speech is structured! All we have to do is tell our audience exactly what we’re going to tell them (and how!).

Who knew it was so simple?

Ok, so how do we tell our audience about the structure of our speech (signposting)?

Just like the old adage says, there’s three places we’ve got to signpost our logical structure to our audience.

  1. At the beginning
  2. In the middle
  3.  At the end

1. At the beginning

Signposting our structure at the beginning of the speech is just like being a train conductor, we’re welcoming everyone onboard and telling them where we’re headed, and the stops along the way! This can be as straightforward as the example below;

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to talk to you today about how widgets are the future of technology (what I’m talking about) and I am going to demonstrate my argument using three key points (signposting the structure!).

2. In the middle

Now that our audience know the journey they’re going on (three key points) we just need to signal each point as we reach. As the train conductor we’re highlighting to our passengers as we arrive at each station on our journey.

We can do this simply by clearly opening and closing each point that we make within our speech, for example:

My first point regarding why widgets are the future of technology is…
…and that is just the first reason why we should all use widgets going forward. The second reason is…

3. At the end

Finally, we’ve got to tell ’em what we’ve told them. It’s the final stop and we’ve got to tell our passengers that we’ve arrived.

A variation on the example below is a great way to signal we are nearing our destination:

Ladies and gentlemen, you have now heard the three reasons why widgets are the future of technology…

What if I’m finding it hard to signpost?

If you’re finding it hard to signpost, then it’s likely that the content, your key points, don’t support your core message very well.

If you’re struggling to tell your audience why and how what you are saying is relevant, then it might not be as relevant as you think.

Take a quick time out to think about the single, core message that you are trying to get across to your audience (eg. why widgets are the future of technology) and then re-evaluate all of your points to check they support your argument – if they don’t, bin them and find new ones!

Further reading


Next week’s secret…

Next week’s secret is all about being concise when we talk through the content in our BIG Presentations.

Before next week have a think about whether you are an over-talker or an under-talker.

Do you often say too much, too little or just exactly what needs to be said?

Which do you think your audience would prefer?