Speaking points are the ideas you want the audience to leave your presentation understanding. Thinking about them ahead of time has two benefits. First of all, you can make sure your speaking points are sharp. Secondly, you can look at what your audience says after your presentation and see if they show up.
We know that we should have one big idea, that Core Truth in the Red Thread of our presentation. Your big idea can take two forms: a definition or cause and effect. For a definition, you’re trying to convince them that X is Y, or X is the new Y. For cause and effect, it’s that X causes Y, or that X and Y are related in a way that we weren’t aware of before.
A major pitfall when you put speaking points together is focusing on what you want to get across and not what the audience finds important. That’s why the Red Thread starts with the question of the Goal: what is the audience already trying to get? While that’s not necessarily a speaking point, it gets you to the Problem, which should be a major tent post of your talk.
The third major speaking point should be based on your Change. What do you want people to do with that information? The Actions can be sub-speaking points for that major piece of information. Altogether, your speaking points will make your presentation clear, confident, strong, and convincing every time you go out there to speak.
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Speaking points are obviously the points that you make while speaking for a presentation or a pitch. But what are they really? Why are they so important? Most critically of all, how do you find the ones that will be most powerful for you, your presentation or your pitch? I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com and that’s exactly what we’re talking about this week on Find the Red Thread. If you’re a fan, please like and subscribe.
At their simplest, speaking points are those ideas, concepts, facts, figures that you want to make sure the audience walks away with. That’s why they’re so important because they’re the core of what you’re trying to communicate. Having them in advance does a couple big things for you.
First is it makes sure that you have greater clarity about what you’re trying to say. That means that your points are going to be sharper. That means that you’ve got better support for them. It also likely means that you’re not fumbling for the words and the language to capture them.
There’s also the extra free prize inside that you can now start to measure the effectiveness of your communications. If you knew you wanted to get three points across and the audience afterwards ends up talking, reading, tweeting about those three things then you know those points landed.
So how do we get there? Let’s first start with how many should we have. We know that we need to have one big idea that we’re trying to get across. It is essentially the Red Thread of your communication and there’s two formats that one big idea can take.
One is a definition where you’re trying to establish that x is the new y or x is y. Just: this is that thing. For instance, “speaking is content’s next frontier.” That was I talk I gave a couple years ago.
Now, it can also take the form of cause and effect. X causes y or y causes or x or x and y are related in a way that we weren’t aware of before. So for instance, Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk that your body language may shape who you are and help you overcome impostor syndrome is that unexpected x, y relationship. This is how these two things are connected that cause each other that we hadn’t thought about before.
So we want to make sure that we have that one big idea because that’s the thing we really want people to walk away with. That’s the thing that will lead to that change in thinking or behavior but how do we get there? Well, that’s where the Red Thread comes in. We need to understand what it is that people are looking for that our speaking points will help them get.
If that sounds a lot like a Goal Statement to you, you’re right. That brings us to the big problem that most people run into when they’re putting speaking points together. They focus on what they want to get across and not what the audience finds important. So we take what our importance is and it outweighs what the audience finds important. But importance is in the eye and the ear of the beholder.
The audience decides moment by moment whether or not what you’re saying is important to them. That’s why it’s so important for us to frame what’s important to us through their eyes. That’s why we always start with that question of the Goal. What are they already looking for that we can help them get? The Goal doesn’t tend to be one of the main supporting speaking points but it does help to anchor why you’re talking to people in the first place.
If you’re trying to talk to people about making their brand stand out in the marketplace or content that converts, it gets them to start listening. But it may not be your main supporting speaking point.
The next piece of the Red Thread though, the Problem, often is a main speaking point. That’s the thing that people haven’t been really looking at in the pursuit of that Goal. Remember, the Problem is a problem of perspective. It’s a combination of what the people you’re talking to are seeing and what you see in the same situation.
So let’s go back to this idea of speaking is content’s last or next frontier. That audience who wants their content to convert is paying attention to how do we get the most effective content out there. But they may be undervaluing the role that spoken content plays in that, both video and live.
Now, this leads us to the next big speaking point which is the Truth, the idea that makes that Problem impossible to ignore. If I’m using messages that speaking is content’s next frontier I want to make sure I support it. That I talk about this point of how spoken content is able to communicate much more about you and your brand than written content ever will. So gives me a whole group of things to make sure that people understand why that first big speaking point, the Problem, is such a problem.
But if we set it up well, that Truth should also explain that big Change that we want people to make and the conclusion that we’re drawing. That Change is the explanation, that final explanation of that big message that we’re trying to get across. So if you want to get your business to stand out in the marketplace and you value content’s role in it that’s the Goal. Maybe you’ve been looking at content and its effectiveness but not necessarily including spoken word content as part of that.
So now you understand and agree that spoken-word content can communicate much more about your message and brand than written content ever will. That means the Change that we need to include is a strategic focus on speaking on live content as part of our content strategy.
That’s that third major speaking point. What do you want people to do with that information? In the case of speaking points, the Actions that you normally think of as part of your Red Thread are sub-speaking points for that Change.
So when you’re thinking about speaking points, what you’re trying to find are those pieces, the Goal, the Problem, the Truth, the Change and the Actions. You’re going to group them into three sub-speaking points, what’s the problem, why is it important? That’s going to be Goal and Problem together. You’re going to talk about the Truth that makes it all such a problem and opens the opportunity for the Change. All your supporting information goes around that speaking point. And then the last one is what to do with that information, the Change and the Actions.
All together, they should add up to that one big idea that you’re trying to get across. When you have those pieces, that overarching Red Thread of your message and its pieces particularly the Problem, the Truth and the Change, you will be clear, confident, strong and convincing every time you go out there to speak.
That’s this week’s episode of Find the Red Thread. I’m Tamsen Webster, your host of tamsenwebster.com. I do workshops and trainings with organizations and for individuals on how to present spoken content in its most powerful way. If you’re interested in that, take a look at tamsenwebster.com/consulting and tamsenwebster.com/speaking. If you’re a fan of this information or of me, will you do me a favor and like and subscribe? Hoping so and I hope to speak to you next week.