Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Feb 19, 2021


From the start, most of us recognize that we have to say something impactful to grab the attention of the humans sitting in front of us. In fact, that’s usually the part we have the most anxiety about. But think on this question. Is that cutesy joke or humorous story what you want your audience to remember after they walk away? Probably not.

So, let’s take a look at the heart of the matter. In other words, here are some guidelines on how to develop our main points.

First, we must determine our purpose. There are three general purposes to pick from. Are we attempting to inform, to persuade or to entertain? Once we identify which, then we must break things down. If our purpose is to inform, then we would need to jot down a sentence that defines what we believe our audience must learn. If we are going to persuade, we must record both the pro and con sides of the topic we intend to address. If we are entertaining, we should write out our theme in one or two sentences.

 Next, we are ready to turn our specific purpose into no more than two or three main ideas to be conveyed. While there is no magic number for how many key ideas can be inserted into a presentation, it is a well-proven fact that the fewer, the better. Humans tend to zone out - especially if a speaker goes on and on and on.

Last, we can “chunk” our information into a logical sequence underneath our main ideas. Chunking involves taking smaller “chunks” of information (potentially minor points) and putting them together beneath a main idea. This final process creates a fully developed presentation. 

By going through the effort of organizing the body of your talk, you can rest assured that the funny story at the beginning may make your audience smile, but a month after you’ve stopped speaking, they will still remember what counted.

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