CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – July 20, 2020
Module Four: Organizing the Program
The key to creating a well-organized speech or presentation is to keep your audience in mind. Start with something that will capture their attention and give them a clear idea of your topic.
Organize the body of your presentation in a way that will be easy for your audience to understand. Plan to review your main points briefly and then wrap things up on a positive note, perhaps giving your audience a “call to action.”
The essential thing to remember is that you are giving your presentation for the benefit of your audience. That means you need to organize it in a way that will make sense to them. The most important thing to keep in the forefront of your mind is that you are not making the speech for yourself, but your audience.
Think of how politicians do things. When they are campaigning they will speak to groups as diverse as different occupations, different ethnicities, and different ages. How they will speak to each changes between speeches. Then, when they are speaking to a cabinet meeting of fellow politicians, the language and the issues will be different again. Keep this in mind when giving a presentation.
Making Organization Easy
Some thoughts on the basic parts of a presentation:
Opening. Some speakers like to start a presentation with a joke. Sometimes this works. It starts on a light note and puts the audience at ease. Buy many people do not tell jokes well. If a presentation starts with something that doesn’t work, the audience will start to question your ability as a speaker. Other ways to start include asking a rhetorical question, giving people a surprising statistic, or telling a brief anecdote that is related to the topic of the presentation.
Body. The next two activities will address the body of a presentation.
Review. Many speakers skip this step, but it can be worth including. Chances are that some members of the audience didn’t get the few key points you want them to take away from the presentation. Restate these key points briefly for the sake of those who were “tuned out” the first time you made them.
Closing. Restate the main point of your presentation. In some cases, you may want to give people a “call to action.”
Obviously, the longer a presentation goes on the more chances there are to lose the attention of your audience. However, making a presentation too short can leave people uninformed and dissatisfied with the body of the presentation. It is therefore essential to structure your presentation correctly, allowing enough time to give it a powerful opening which will draw listeners in, a strong middle which will hold that attention and give them all the facts, and a closing section which reinforces what they were told and gives them an idea about what action needs to be taken to back it all up.
All these parts need to be present, and each needs to be weighted correctly according to the amount of time you have available to you. It may well be the case that in order to attend a presentation people are taken away from doing their “normal” job.
Such demands on a person’s time will reflect in how they view the presentation and how much of their attention they give it.
The amount of time you give to each section of a presentation will therefore be governed by how much time you have overall and how much of that time will be necessary to get all of your substantive points across. If your presentation is in danger of running over time, it will be necessary to trim it in places, beginning with any extraneous detail.
Remember that most presentations will be followed up by a pick-up session of sorts, where individual questions can be dealt with. The presentation itself is where larger issues are raised and answered.
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