When You Present, Have a Message

Every presentation you give needs a point – the one core message that you want the audience to remember. Yes, you will have a lot of supporting material and secondary points, but there is really only one message. 

Think of it as a billboard or newspaper headline.  Fit it into one sentence and state it clearly in your introduction.  For example, “The purpose of this presentation is to explain why this project is behind schedule and how we are going to fix that.” Or, “The point of this presentation is to explain the three steps you need to take in order to become a more effective presenter.”

Having a single message makes it easier for the audience to understand your presentation and remember it.  Imagine that we interview everyone in the audience after your presentation and ask them, “What was the point of that presentation?” They should all give more or less the same answer – your message, paraphrased in their own words.

As you prepare your presentation, you need laser-like focus because everything you say should be organized around that message.  And if the example or statistic doesn’t relate somehow to your message, don’t include it.  (Yes, this can be difficult if you are a subject matter expert because the more you know about a subject, the harder it is to present succinctly and with a limited focus).

You can bring extra material with you in case of off-message questions or to be handed out at the end.  You can email an appendix or addendum after your presentation.  But the words that come out of your mouth should be exclusively focused on and organized around your message.

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Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com