A confident speaker steps onto the stage and gives the most persuasive speech you've ever heard. Credible, informative and engaging--the crowd loves it.
A great speech begins with great writing. And great writing comes from a solid plan of attack. Contrary to all of the "wing it" advice you may have heard, preparation is the key to success.
Read on to learn how to form your own game plan and write the speech you've always dreamed of giving.
You Need a Destination
Structure is crucial--without it, your audience will be confused at best and disinterested at worst. If you don't know where you're headed, no one listening will either. You need a specific direction to head.
Start by making a goal for your presentation. Make it one that's real, measurable and attainable. Do you want people to buy your product, attend your event or support your cause? All of that is measurable and completely doable.
Now you know where you're going...
But How Do You Get There?
The best TED speakers know it's the journey to that destination that lets them shine. You'll be in their league if you form a plan for the delivery of your message. In a speech or presentation, that plan is a story.
Remember, you have one chance to take your audience by the hand and lead them down the road to your message. Make sure they arrive and enjoy the trip you took to get there. Do that by crafting not just a story but a great story.
What should your story be? Since you already know your destination, you just need to find a story that will get you from point A to point B. Maybe it's an emblematic anecdote or a lesson learned from a failure. Finding your story is a matter of discovering a way to show your message is an important one. Then, take the time to break it down and form a beginning, middle and fulfilling end.
A word of caution: Do not base your presentation plan on your PowerPoint. Make an outline to organize your thoughts--your PowerPoint is not your roadmap. Craft your story first, then worry about visual aids.
The best stories have endings that leave the listener feeling like they received something valuable. Whether it's a lesson or laugh, give your audience a takeaway. Couple that freebie with a call to action, and you'll have your audience leaving your presentation satisfied.
What is a call to action? It's a rallying cry for your audience--the moment when you give them a task or mission to accomplish. If you don't add a call to action to your presentation, then you've spent your speech releasing hot air.
Your call to action doesn't have to be complex--in fact, it's better if it's not. The most effective ones are clear and compelling. Maybe you'll tell your listeners to visit a website or try a complimentary service. It doesn't matter specifically what you tell them to do, but make sure it supports your overall goal, i.e. destination.
Take your audience on a journey and have them finish at your chosen destination. With proper planning, they'll arrive hanging on your every word, ready to take the trip again.