by Alan Matthews
If I could offer one tip to you as a speaker for when you’re preparing a talk, it would be this – never overestimate how much people will remember. It would shock you to find out how little of your content anyone will recall the next day.
There is research about all this, of course, but I’m not going into it here. For one thing, you don’t need it. You know yourself, from talks you’ve been to, that you forget most of the detail very quickly.
I want to focus on one thing that you can do to make sure people remember the key element of your talk or presentation.
Work out what your message is. And express it in one or two sentences.
When I’m working with speakers and I ask them to do this, most of them really struggle. They start to reel off a series of points they want to make or they give me an overview of the content, “Well, there are 4 things I want to say”.
No, that’s not it. What’s the one message you want people to remember above all else? What do you want them to have in their heads when they walk out of the door and still have fixed in their minds the next day?
I’m not talking about the detail, I’m talking about the overarching message.
For example, if you’re giving a presentation about the profit projections for the next quarter (yes, I deliberately picked the most boring topic I could think of), what message do you want people to take away? It could be, “We’re in a real mess, we all need to work together to get out of it.”
If you’re speaking about leadership, your message might be, “Leaders lead by example, be a role model for the people who work with you.”
If you’re a motivational speaker, it might be, “You can take control of your life and become the person you want to be.”
These are all powerful messages. They have an emotional element to them. If the message hits home, people will “feel” the message as well as understand it intellectually. That’s one reason why it will stick.
Here’s what will happen if you get it right. The day after your talk, if you ask someone who attended what it was about, they’ll say,” I can’t remember all the detail, but the main thing was… ”
If you can be clear about your message, that determines all the content you include, because everything you say will be focused on that message. You can use it as your opener, “The one thing I want you to take away today is this… ” Or you can use it as your closing line, “My final message to you is this… ”
Many speakers aren’t clear about this when they start to prepare, so they have too many messages in their minds. They have too many points to make, their content is muddled and they expect people to remember too much.
Having one clear, powerful message in your mind when you write your talk will make life so much easier for you – and it will give you far more impact as a speaker!
About the author
Alan Matthews is the author of How To Design And Deliver Great Training and The Successful Presenter’s Handbook, available from Amazon. You can get his free report, “8 Steps To Excellence – the 8 key habits that make top trainers and presenters stand out” from the website at [http://www.alanmatthewstraining.com] You will also find lots of articles and videos to help you become an outstanding trainer or presenter.