Last month we looked at the most often asked question of us here: “Can you make me a confident speaker?“ This month, we look at the second most common query: “I have a speech coming up and I don’t know what to say. What should I do?”
In speaking circles, an often-issued phrase is “Content is King”. Those who take our workshops know we aren’t ready to crown Content King (we also give high position to the skills a speaker brings to the stage and the ability to draw an audience in with visuals, questions, stories, and interaction). But let’s face it: without something powerful to say and said well, your audience is going to leave disappointed. Good content can make up for bad delivery (sometimes), but I’m just not convinced. Or as my writing instructor in high school told me: “You are technically correct in all your writing. You just don’t have anything to write about.” When I found my passion later in life and got an article published in a national magazine, I sent it to her with a note: “You were right!”
But passion alone cannot rule the day when it comes to content. In fact, passionate people often drone on and on with lots of details only they care about. Finding what subset of your passion to share, how to organize it, and what containers to put around the meat of the content is not trivial.
But there is hope. And help. We teach a method we call “Mad Libs for Presenters.” Based on the old children’s word game, it is a template that so far has worked for every situation we’ve been called in to help. Clients frequently say, “How do you do that?” when we take their material and turn it into an organized and succinct message. But it’s not magic. It’s a reproducible method that anyone can copy.
Our method is not unique, and may not even be the best. But like dieting, most any method, when followed, will work. Find a method and make it work. But throwing content into PowerPoint and hoping people will like it is not a great way to produce a message.
To learn more about our easy-to-follow, systematic formula for creating ANY talk you need to give, check out our Creating Powerful, Persuasive Presentation Content Workshop.
This article was published in the March 2015 edition of our monthly speaking tips newsletter,Communication Matters. Have speaking tips like these delivered straight to your inbox every month. Sign up today!