Number one step in preparing for a presentation…

messageIt’s all about the message right? It’s not just the words we choose to say or even the sequence and structure we employ to express those words. It’s the meaning behind all that, it’s what the audience will take away and remember, it’s how the listeners will be influenced by what you say and the meaning they understand that matters.

I think lots of speakers get this: but it is a different and sometimes complex task to unpick when you are at the design and craft stage of preparing for a presentation.

When I work with some clients and I ask them what their message is they will often tell me a long list of content. Things they want to say. When I ask why do you want them to know this stuff, they typically will then add in benefits and reasoning. But to ensure that your audience goes away with what they need and you want them to, you have to be absolutely crystal clear on Your Message. Everything else – the words, the structure the stories and the slides – will follow (and follow more easily) when you have clarity about your own message.

I was speaking with a friend last week and once she’d told me about the content and then got the benefits out of the way, she spoke fluently and compellingly of the message she would like her potential audiences to take away with them. And it wasn’t the ‘what’ of her presentation; it was the ‘why’ of her presentation.  She is going to rock it.

Even if your content is not new or is about the mundane and day to day ( audit reports come to mind!), it’s your interpretation that makes the message.  It’s the meaning you assign that forms the message. And it’s your investment ( time, energy, passion or belief) that helps drive that message home.

I have a series of valuable questions I ask clients when they are preparing for a presentation that aims to get right at the heart of what they want to influence and how they want to impact on their listeners. I find it’s worth the time putting in this effort upfront – and then your message gets out there, loud and clear. It’s the number one step.

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