Monday, October 5, 2009

Speaking Skills: Planning (part 3)

Part 4 of "Professionally Speaking: Six Keys to Better Presentations," is the continuation of the second key: Planning. In this entry: Research.

When you have clarified your point, your audience, and your take-home message, and you have come up with a rough outline to structure your material, you are ready to develop the content. A great way to start is by researching.

Will you need data, quotes, anecdotes, news stories to get your point across? If you conduct your research before scripting your presentation (if scripting is required), you will be able to have a wide variety of material available. Research is useful to help you drive your point home. When you can cite facts, studies, or current events to make your position obvious, your audience has more trust in you. Pithy quotes and relevant anecdotes help your audience connect with you personally. Don’t forget to include personal stories and even jokes, where appropriate. Keep the following in mind: anything you add through research should highlight and add to your speech, not detract, distract, or take away from it.

It’s easy to dig up a lot of information about your topic, and you may be tempted to put it all in your presentation because it all seems relevant. Resist this urge! You can bombard your audience with far too much information. Return to the “so what?” question you originally asked yourself so that you can make sure you are sticking to the heart of the matter. Make sure your support material is clear, helpful, and illuminates what you are saying.

Next up: Scripting

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