You can develop more effective presentations and speeches if you borrow from successful speakers in history. Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great Roman orator, said, "Tickling and then soothing anxiety is the test of a speaker's impact and technique."

Tickling and soothing anxieties is the problem/solution method of structuring a talk. Steve Jobs was a master of it.

It is also the test of playwrights, novelists, movie directors, TV shows, sales professionals, and business communicators. A good speech, presentation, or sales pitch is the kissing cousin of good drama.

Drama: an essential ingredient

How so? Drama and storytelling require tension, anxiety, and uncertainty in order to capture and hold the attention of an audience. Without tension and anxiety-without drama-a show is boring.

Highly effective business presentations borrow from the world of theater and drama. Good speakers set the scene with pleasantries and an easy manner, but very soon tickle the anxieties of the audience by introducing a problem, an imbalance that needs to be corrected, or a myth that needs busting.

Like good dramatists whose characters have problems, good speakers explore the causes and consequences of their listeners' problems, drawing their audience ever deeper into the need for taking action.

Likewise for good sales professionals. For instance, Neil Rackham's Spin Selling, a system based on a study of 35,000 sales calls, suggests that sales professionals first establish credibility by uncovering the situation the prospect is in, and then defining the problem that bedevils their operations.

Set up problems, then offer solutions

Then, once speakers have tickled the anxiety of the audience, they need to pass the test by soothing the anxieties they've aroused. They need to offer solutions to the problems that have been brought to mind.

Tickling and then soothing anxiety is the stuff of drama, and it works in sales and public speaking too. Consultants call it FUD: fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Put drama into your speeches and sales techniques by defining a problem, and then offering effective solutions.