“Good structure gives you the confidence to be creative.” Patricia Fripp
How often have you sat in an audience and been mesmerized by a speaker? Was it their compelling content? Were their stories scintillating? Were they able to reach out and grab you in such a way that you thought, “Wow, the speaker is talking JUST to me”?
Be honest. How many life-changing, career-building, or truly unforgettable presentations have you heard? Have you ever been that speaker? At this point, you realize what that ability means to you and your career.
To review: Your content or material is everything that makes up what you say in your presentation. Your structure is the order and framework of the presentation.
Your delivery is how you communicate your message, personality, and authority.
Your first step in creating your speech structure is to answer this question: “Based on my subject, what is my premise or central theme?” This is the big idea you want to get across.
Every TV show, movie, and book has a clear premise. So does your presentation.
Every audience wants to know that you know who they are. The premise statement is valuable because when you have your core presentation, it helps you adapt your focus and examples for each audience. Sometimes you state your premise. Other times it is in the back of your mind driving your presentation.
Hear Patricia describe your Central Theme or Premise
Imagine that I ask you, “If you had one sentence rather than 20 or 45 minutes for your presentation, what would you say?” If your answer is in one sentence and not a paragraph, you probably have your central theme. That is the premise of your presentation.
The dictionary definition of a premise is “A basis of argument leading to a conclusion.”
Once you have your premise, you list your key talking points, what we like to call your “points of wisdom,” into the outline of your presentation.
Your talking points prove your premise; they make your case for you.
“A strong presentation structure gives you the freedom to be creative.” Patricia Fripp
This is how you organize your presentation with a logical flow. (Part one)
It will be easy for both you and your audience to remember with minimal or no notes.
The more you work on clarifying your content, organizing your structure, then adding some initial scripting, the easier it will be for you to have professional-sounding delivery.
You would not build a home without a blueprint. You would not drive to another city without a map, GPS, or good directions. It is the same with your speech structure. It is what we consider the skeleton under the flesh of your words.
Once you have decided on the content you are going to include in your presentation, you are ready to learn how to organize it into a strong structure.
The first step is to clarify the intent and benefit of your message for the audience.
Do you know how to deliver technical, industry-specific presentations and add theatrical techniques?
Yes, it is possible. Here is a great example of an industry expert who knows how to open her presentation with impact and capture an audience’s attention after a fun, late-night party.
Lisa Poole, CPP, is the 2021 Payroll Woman of the Year, VP, Payroll Governance Manager, Truist and part of the Speakers Bureau for the American Payroll Association. Engaging an audience with a somewhat technical topic can be a challenge. Not for Lisa!
Lisa said the techniques she learned in 18 years of my APA Speaker training helped her create the following introduction to her session on “Adding Value to Your Organization Through Job Costing.”
“Good morning! Did you enjoy last evening’s Payroll Palooza? After that party, I bet you slept very soundly! Would it interest you to know that 37 separate components go into making the mattress you slept on?
Yes, everything begins with a love story. Happy 35th anniversary!
This will be of interest to you if you are a friend or fan of my brother Robert Fripp, legendary guitarist of King Crimson, and his very talented wife award-winning singer, songwriter, and actress Toyah Willcox. This is a tribute to them on their 35th anniversary.
This might also interest you if you are a sucker for romance.
If you do not enjoy the position, salary, or respect your feel you deserve, I recommend you dress and speak for the role you aspire to, not the one you now have.
When I was growing up, my mother gave me great advice.
She said, “Patricia, of course, it is the inner you that is most important. However, you have to dress up and look good so that you can attract others. They will then discover how nice and smart you are and how you can be of value to them.”
Hollywood has ideas to help you get promoted.
Edith Head, the famous costume designer for Hollywood movies, gave us more great advice!
She said, “You can have everything you want as long as you dress for it!” She had a point. Costumes are as essential for the movie of your life as they are for a Hollywood movie.
Before you open your mouth, your appearance speaks for you.
When you have created your presentation you are only halfway there.
You need to internalize your new way of presenting and make it second nature. When you deliver your presentation, you want to be able to focus on the audience, not your performance.
Build rehearsal into your everyday life.
You will never be able to schedule as much rehearsal as much as you need, so make it a part of your routine:
Practice your presentation as you walk around your office.
Record your presentation and listen to it. How does it sound?
Rehearse on a treadmill, which engages your left and right brain and can help you see your presentation structurally and creatively.
Ask friends and supportive colleagues to be your test audience. These are people who are on your side and have your best interests at heart.
Decide your movement strategy.
Some presenters like to move, while others stand still. There is a big difference, however, between movement and nervous energy. Have you noticed that some presenters do what looks like a little dance in the front of the room? Or put their weight on one leg and then the other? Do not distract from your own message with unnecessary movement.
In the beginning, it is best to stand still, and I also recommend standing still when you are telling a story or delivering your key benefits as a way to emphasize your points. How you stand represents the stability of your ideas and your company, which builds your authority and makes you feel comfortable. If you have an accent, remaining stationary helps your audience get used to the sound of your voice. (This may not make sense, but it is true!) If you are moving around when they are getting accustomed to the sound of your voice, your listeners often believe they can’t hear.
The three ways to move.
If you study exceptional speakers, you will notice that they employ three types of movement:
It is not your client’s job to remember you. It is your responsibility to make sure you are unforgettable.
Here is a great action step to take. Call your five best clients, those whom you currently use as references.
Even if you leave a voicemail, say “Bob, I never get tired of telling the story about how we (fill in the name of an important project you worked on together). Would you mind telling me in your words what your experience was? Did we reach or exceed your expectations? Did we come in under budget? With your permission, I would like to make an appointment and record your comments. May I use you as an example in my sales presentations? Let me know when we can talk.”
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