Now that you have a great title, how do you write descriptions for your talk or presentation? Again, it’s about framing the ideas for the organizer to say yes, which means using the Red Thread. If we write descriptions so the organizer gets all their questions answered, it’ll answer their attendees’ questions, too.
To do this well, you need the Goal, Problem, Truth, Change, and Action of the talk or presentation, which you can plug into Tamsen’s framework. That doesn’t mean you need to have built the presentation, just the pieces.
Open with the Goal, then allude to the Problem or Truth. Next, match the outcomes they can expect from the talk with your authority to speak about those outcomes. Finally, put together some actionable takeaways based on what they’ll be able to do after your talk. We look at some examples to highlight the ins and outs of making each step work.
- How to Write a Conference Speaking or Session Proposal That Gets Chosen Every Time
- Tamsen’s Talks
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– Okay, well, you’ve found The Red Thread for your talk. You’ve found an awesome title that combines something people want via an unexpected or ownable means to get there. Maybe you’ve adjusted it for a TEDx. How do you actually talk about this talk?
That’s what we’re talking about this week on Find The Red Thread. We’re going to talk about how to craft great descriptions that people also say yes to. I’m your host, Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. Please like and subscribe.
I have some bad news and I have some good news. So, the bad news is we’re dealing with the same Problem and Truth as we’ve been talking about titling our talks, TEDx or otherwise. We need to make sure that we’re framing our ideas in a format the organizer understands. Because the organizer is the one making decisions. The good news is we already know what that is.
We already know what the structure of information needs to be for someone to say yes to our talk. It’s the same structure of information that anybody needs to say yes to a new idea. And that structure is the Red Thread.
We need to give people answers to fundamental questions they have about an idea before they can say yes to it. When it comes to an organizer and the description we also need to make sure it’s written in such a way that’s perfect for the organizer to pop into their conference program. We want to keep it, ideally, as close to how we’ve written it as possible. And if we’ve done a good job the organizer’s likely to do that. Because if the organizer gets all their questions answered they know it’s probably going to answer all the questions of their attendees, too. And when their attendees say yes to a presentation then the organizer goes, “Yes, I’ve done my job.”
Alright, so, how do we do that? Well, a first step is to pull together the pieces of your idea’s Red Thread. So, you’re going to need the Goal, the Problem, the Truth, the Change and the Action of the presentation that you’re about to describe. The good news is that you don’t have to have built the whole presentation. You just need those pieces.
And once you have those pieces, you’ll have a description that definitely, you’ll be able to build a presentation off later. And not go back and say, “Why the heck did I say the presentation was going to be about that?” Not like I had ever done that before I discovered this process for myself but maybe you have. Okay, I totally did that. But since I started using this process I’ve been able to nail the conference description at a proposal or the talk description every time.
Here’s how it goes, it’s a simple framework that you’re just going to fill in the pieces of your Red Thread. Here’s how it goes: first, you’re going to open with the Goal. Open the description with the Goal. Second, you’re going to allude to the Problem or the Idea. You’re probably not going to tell them exactly what it is. But you probably, by the way, have told them something about it in the title. But you’re going to allude to it here in the next part.
In the third part, you’re going to match the outcomes they can expect from the talk with your authority to speak about those outcomes. And then, finally, you’re going to put together some actionable takeaways built on the pieces of the talk that you have already planned out.
Now, what does that actually look like? So, I’m going to use a talk description that I built for a webinar that I did recently for MarketingProfs PRO. Their PRO seminar on how to build presentations. And I really wanted to focus on how do you design a presentation from the ground up. Not so much on the slides but really how do you figure out what the idea is and how do you structure it? So, it was called, to evoke our titling descriptions from before, “Substance, Structure, Style: How to Build Presentations People Say Yes to.”
So, “Substance, Structure, Style” was indicating what the unexpected or unfamiliar approach might be. And then after the colon was, “How to Build Presentations People Say Yes to.” Now, I subsequently discovered that “Substance, Structure, Style” is what grand storyteller, expert Robert McKee uses. Had no idea at the time. So, in future versions, I would probably just call this the second part, “How to Build Presentations People Say Yes to.” Or I could use “The Red Thread” before the colon.
But since we’re talking about descriptions today let’s talk about this description. Now, remember the first thing I said is we’re going to open with the Goal. And in this case, I need to set it up a little bit. So, here’s how I did that. I said, “Each time we present, no matter how formally, we’re asking our audience to say yes to a change in thinking or behavior.”
That’s putting out a statement that most people will say yes to. Then, I’m starting to get more specific about what question this talk will answer. I say, “Too often though, we get a whole lot of no. Why?”
So, obviously, since I have in the title “How to Build Presentations People Say Yes to” that is the Goal. So, I’m just reframing it slightly differently in how I open this description. I’m saying, “We need people to say yes. We get a lot of no. Why do we get no?”
Here’s where I (second part) allude to the Problem or the Idea. I say, “Because we push for the yes rather than create the conditions for it.” Now, I am actually telling them the answer. I’m telling them what the Problem of my talk is.
But not in such a way that they go, “Oh I get it now. I don’t need to listen.” It’s enough information that they say, “Oh, that makes sense but I need to know what these conditions are. Why can’t we push for the yes?”
All these other questions come into play. But those are good questions. Those are good questions that say I want to know more. Not, what the heck is this about?
Now, the third piece, as I said, is to match outcomes with authority. I put the authority piece first. So, I said, “Join recovering 20-year Brand Marketer and former TEDx Executive Producer Tamsen Webster.” So, I’m picking pieces from my background that I think are relevant to this particular talk.
If you look at my talk descriptions at tamsenwebster.com/speaking you’ll see I treat this piece a little differently depending on what the topic of the talk is. Oftentimes, I’m going to be talking about message strategy or brand strategy in TEDx. But it depends on the talk. So, you pick the authority that you have and then match it to the outcomes of the talk.
So, this is going to be a little bit more specific now about the Goal. But also what are the Change and the Actions that you’ve planned out when you’re doing the work of your Red Thread?
“So,” I said, “join me as she explains how to build the substance, structure, and style of your presentations that make it easy for your audience to say yes.” I’m telling you this talk is going to give you how to build the substance and the structure and the style of your presentations so we get the outcome we’re looking for.
You’ll see also that I looped back to the Goal at the beginning. That’s a way to reinforce to people that when you listen to this talk, you’ll get what the title promised.
Now, sometimes you need to include actionable takeaways. And a lot of times, in fact for most of the time I put these takeaways together, I really focused on what people would learn. And I wanted to do that in a way that was a little bit marketing-y. It was a way that would get people to say, “Well, what are the five ways to do this?” Or, “What are the three things that most people miss?”
But I’ve recently started to be much more specific about that and frame it in this way. By the end of this talk or the seminar or this webinar you’ll be able to or the audience will be able to. And so, I’m framing some of those five key concepts from a truly actionable standpoint. In this case, I said, “Identify the five key concepts every presentation needs. And know how to find them in your own.”
So, instead of just saying, “you’ll learn the five key concepts every presentation needs.” I’m saying, “you’ll be able to identify the five key concepts and know how to find them in your own presentation.”
Meeting organizers love this. I had a meeting organizer approach me with a talk that they wanted me to give based on just that kind of phrasing. They said, “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to hire you. Because we understood that you had a focus on actual applicability of this information.”
So, I have two more here. The second one was, “Organize your content so it feels like a story even if it isn’t one.” So, you’ll be able to organize your content so it feels like a story even if it isn’t one. Yes, it tells people you’re going to be able to organize your content but adds a little bit more flavor into what they’re going to get.
Now they know there’s going to be some elements of story and story structure. And appeal to those people who really want to be better storytellers. ‘Cause why do they want to do this? I say, “even if it isn’t one” and it keeps your audience hanging on every word.
Because we don’t just want to organize our information. We want to organize it in such a way that people are interested in it, that they’re excited about it. They keep listening to it.
So, the third piece here was, “Choose the illustrations and information that make your presentation and you come to life.” Being specific here about what are the things that they’re going to walk away with and be able to do. So, be able to choose the illustrations and information that make your presentation and you come to life.
When you have all those pieces, which, again, you don’t have to write the talk first. All you need is the pieces of your Red Thread first. You’ve got everything you need to put together a super powerful description.
Now, if you want to see this written up, I wrote something on LinkedIn called, “How to Write a Conference Session Proposal That Gets a Yes Every Time or Gets Accepted Every Time.” You can search for that and find it. But you can also pay attention to how other people do this well.
Now, I’ve got more examples in my own speaking topics at tamsenwebster.com/speaking. But when you follow this format, I think you’ll find that it makes the writing the descriptions easier. But it also makes it much, much easier for the organizers to say yes.
So, just remember this, you open with the Goal. You allude to the Problem and/or the Idea. You match outcomes with your authority. And you give them actionable takeaways based on what they’ll be able to do after your talk.
That’s this weeks episode on how to write the descriptions for your talks so you can get that green light for them. If you want more information on how to build that you can find much of that same content in my “Building Blocks For Better Talks” presentation I did. And you can find that at tamsenwebster.com/blocksfortalks. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. If you did, please do me one more favor and like, subscribe or share it. Thanks so much and I’ll see you next time.