Put some meat on those bones! (aka the Why, How and What)

I know, I know; you want to give your audience their money’s worth. You want them to feel their time is well spent.  So, you pack your presentation full of references, statistics, lists from A to G.  You’ve got five main points to your presentation and about 7 sub-points under each one of those. Those audience members are going to leave your presentation with lots of really important stuff in their heads if it’s the last thing you do. Well, my well-intentioned reader, it may not be the last thing you do, but it may be the last time you or your “stuff” are thought about.

Tons of stuff, main points and sub points and statistics and expert references don’t put meat on the bones of your message.  They’re just more noise.  At some point, none of it sticking – the audience tunes out.  And once they’ve tuned out, they’re not taking anything away.  So how to put meat on those bones?  How to make it stick?

First, think of your main points more completely.  Why is this point important?  If you’re suggesting a change in thinking or acting, how does this change come about?  What great things will happen if this change is adopted?  These are the questions you must answer in order for the audience to hear, digest and internalize your message.

For example, I tell audiences that one of the most important things they can do to become a more confident more compelling speaker is to practice out loud.  If I left the point there and went on to the next thing, how likely do you think they’d be to remember this advice, let alone adopt it?  Exactly.

Instead, once I tell them to practice I tell them why; “Your presentation never comes out of your mouth the way it sounds in your head and there is nothing scarier than hearing words come out of your mouth for the very first time in front of  a real live audience.”  Now I’ve got their attention because chances are good they’ve had this experience, and thus can connect the why.  Next I tell them how.  “Shower and car.  We all take a shower, at least every other day.  Showers are great places to practice.  The distractions are few and the acoustics are great.  The car is another great place to practice.  Years ago you’d have looked like an idiot riding down the highway talking to yourself; now everyone’s doing it!” Lastly, I tell them what they can expect from practicing out loud.  They’ll be exponentially more confident, more compelling because they will have heard what they’re saying.  They’ll know it’s organized properly, they’ll know they’re using the right words and stories.  Knowing these things instills confidence, composure and conviction. These are the great things that will happen if they take my advice.

Take the time to really think about the important points in your next presentation.  Develop the why, how and what.  Don’t stuff your presentation with stuff; lists and author references and complicated charts.  Put real meat on the bones instead.  That’ll stick, and you’ll be heard.


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