Let’s cut to the chase.
It’s all well and good to be encouraged to be yourself,embrace your uniqueness, and stand out, but sometimes you need something more tangible, pragmatic, and easy to follow.
Like … a universal template for presentations and speeches, perhaps?
Maybe I’m overselling a little, but every effective speech answers 4 questions. Some answer these questions with presidential rhetoric and others with sweet simplicity. Regardless of the order, these 4 questions provide the backbone for any kind of speech.
Answer them before you start drafting, and figuring out what to say (content) will be a breeze.
QUESTION A: WHAT DO YOU WANT THE AUDIENCE TO DO?
Your speech needs to answer this question clearly and directly. Otherwise, your audience will be left wondering what your point was.
QUESTION B: WHAT WILL PERSUADE THE AUDIENCE TO DO IT?
To convince your audience to take the action you’re advocating, you must provide them with reasons that persuade them to act. The reasons that motivate your audience may or may not be the same things that motivate you. Who is your audience? What do they need to know? What do they need to be convinced of?
Once you’ve persuaded them, make it easy for the audience to follow through by giving them all the info they need. How can they answer your call to action?
QUESTION C: WHY SHOULD THE AUDIENCE CARE?
Don’t assume the answer to this question is obvious. Just because people should care about something doesn’t mean they actually do. Find a specific and personal reason your audience should care, and you’ll deliver messages that really resonate.
Sometimes, though, the question is “why does the audience care?” If you’ve been asked to speak to a group with a special charge or purpose, make sure you understand their passions and their interests. If you don’t know why they care about your presentation, you won’t be able to reach them.
QUESTION D: WHY DO YOU CARE?
Surprisingly, this question can be the hardest one to answer … especially if the presentation or speech you are giving is part of your job. Folks often find themselves speaking because they have been asked to, told to, or are expected to.
Think about a unique and personal way that the topic impacts your life. If you don’t have a personal connection, you should care for the same reasons as the audience. Regardless of the answer, it’s important that you have one. Audiences can tell when a speaker is apathetic or disconnected from the subject.
PUT IT TOGETHER
Now that you’ve answered all the questions, outlining your speech is a snap. Just work backwards! I recommend this simple format:
- INTRODUCTION: Personal story about why you care (Question D)
- PROBLEM STATEMENT: Explanation of why the audience should/does care (Question C)
- MAIN POINTS: Reasons audience should act / info about how to do so (Question B)
- CALL TO ACTION: What you want to audience to do (Question A)
Your purpose, personality, and audience may require a different approach, but by using this template, you’ll never find yourself stumped about how to get started writing a speech again!