Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Get Your Message Across

Have you ever finished a conversation with someone, and had no idea what he or she was trying to say? Well, don’t feel bad, this happens in the business world too. A business article written by Hillary Chura, appearing in the International Herald Tribune, discusses this very topic with a business executive. The executive says, "Some entrepreneurs are such poor communicators that they never get past the first meeting with us." She goes on to say, “A good entrepreneur can give you a 30- second elevator pitch that describes his or her business. Sadly, many fail to do that in the course of an hour's meeting." Don't let this happen to you.

Let’s look at structuring and organizing your presentation. A presentation has three elements:

First Element: Opening (Tell them what you are going to tell them)
The opening is the most important part of your presentation. The opening serves a roadmap for your audience. You are going to tell them what you are going to discuss. Listeners want to know this, or they will lose interest right away. In the fast pace world of today, we have short attention spans and always seem to be in a hurry. That’s why it is important we implement a few strategies in delivering an effective opening.

First of all, the opening should grab the attention of the audience. A speaker can use an interesting fact, a bold claim, story or a testimony. Within the opening you want to have a “hook.” A hook is a statement or question that piques the listener’s interest to want to hear more.

Secondly, remember it’s all about the listener. The listener is tuned into their favorite radio station WIIFM -- What’s In It For Me. If they don’t see how your message will benefit them, they will tune you out. Of course, many will be polite and let you finish your presentation or spiel, but don’t ask them to repeat your message. Their “attention” left the building.

Second Element: Body (Tell them)
The body is the area to make your case – supporting your opening benefit statement. A speaker gains even more credibility by providing strong evidence and supporting material. Stories, testimonies, statistics are great ideas to support your three major points. It's not scientific, but there is something magical about having three points.

Before moving on to the next element, I must tell you the power of the story. People love to hear stories and it's a surefire way to hold the audience in the palm of your hand. Remember the bedtime stories. You're not a good storyteller? Well, start practicing because all of the top speakers recommend using stories to support your points. Go check out this site on storytelling.

Third Element: Conclusion (Tell them what you just told them)
It is easy for speakers to forget this element. They have done everything in their power to not pass out while delivering the presentation- many just want to end the speech. The conclusion offers you the opportunity recap the points of your presentation -Remember advertisers repeat their message - and make a call to action. Give the audience something to think about. You can close with a story, present a call to action or ask for the order. DO NOT JUST END THE PRESENTATION.

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