Have you been to hear a charismatic speaker whose style and skill really energised you? But when you came to analyse what was said you found that there was little of worth actually said? A really powerful presenter appeals to our intelligence as well as to our emotions.

It takes work to prepare a great presentation for it requires substance and delivery to both combine together. And while great delivery skills may blind an audience for a short time, to be really memorable the presentation needs substance.

Some of the factors in creating substance are:

1. Be opinionated and passionate

2. Begin with a bang!

3. Conclude with care and concern

4. Illustrate your message with that relevant quote or anecdote

Be opinionated and passionate – You cannot move your audience if you are not moved by your topic. You need to have strong ideas and very strong opinions and you need to have a very clear idea of what you want the audience to know and to do about it. Create a central theme which you can use to tie the whole presentation together. “Only practical experience will educate teenagers about the dangers of drink driving”

Begin with a Bang – Research tells us that our audience will remember what we say first and last, so our beginning and conclusions are the critical parts or our presentation. We receive our information in ’sound bites’ and short hand text messages. Emails and mobile phones bring information directly to us and we have become used to short sharp burst of information. Likewise when we engage with our audience we have no more than one minute to grab their full attention.

So we need to be in control of our opening content, we need be very disciplined about what we say. If we are to make that 90 second impact we need the confidence that comes from being in complete control; which means we need to know precisely what we are going say and can say it clearly and concisely.

Conclude with care and concern – The conclusion is the crux of the matter – Why are you telling the audience this? Why do you want it to matter to them? What do you want the audience to do with the information? The answers to these questions should be the conclusion of your speech. If you know where you are going it is easier to make sure that the way is clearly marked; and to use your central theme as the route markers.

Seek out the perfect quote or anecdote that epitomises your message – When I first began to speak professionally finding the perfect quote meant combing through book after book of quotations. Now I love books and during this time I had a note book full of quotations carefully gathered from various places and organised and cross referenced for ease. But there is no denying that it did take a lot of time.

Today with the help of the internet finding that exact quote is much quicker as we can search by subject as well as author. So finding that perfect quote has never been easier. Why is the quote important? Because it encapsulate your message in a simplified way “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him” Aldous Huxley from ‘Texts and Pretexts’.

Similarly we use an anecdote or a story to illustrate in a simplified way precisely the point we want to make. The story can be a personal one which your audience identifies with. There is a bond forged between people who have shared experiences. But make sure that the story actually works with your subject, and be wary of retelling someone else’s story – they are probably copyrighted. Again access to the internet may be helpful but I find that telling my personal story is the one thing that makes an immediate connection with the audience.

We may not think that we have any stories – but every one in their lives has experienced happiness, sadness, anger and all those other emotions that make us human, and we can share these experiences to make our point.

If we wish to craft memorable presentations that our audience can relate to and which they remember the day after, we need to ensure that we have some substance in our speech. Our involvement comes from our passion for our topic, and our engagement is developed through our effective opening. Our audience connection is through quotes and anecdotes and their commitment is gained with a caring and compassionate conclusion. If we can deliver this then we have a speech with substance. All that is left is to ‘Develop our Dynamic Presentation’ and that’s for Friday.


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