One big goal of public speaker coaching is to create content that serves both your goals and your audience’s needs. Here’s how we’re going to get that job done:
1. What is a “message,” and why does it matter?
Your key message is the biggest, most important, and most true thing that you can say on any given topic. Ideally, it’s the thing that your audience will remember and think about long after you’ve finished speaking to them. I call it “the holy grail of public speaking,” because once you truly understand your key message, the rest of your speech rolls out pretty easily.
2. I’m presenting a research report. How does the key message idea apply?
No matter the topic you’re discussing, there’s always one big-picture statement that can put everything you’re about to say into a useful context. To get at it, I might ask you questions like these:
- Was your research successful, or disappointing?
- Did the research team work well together, or have a bumpy ride?
- Is your project going to continue, or is this the final time anyone will hear about it?
- Do your findings indicate hope, or disaster in the making?
Although your facts and figures stay the same, the way you frame them—based on your answers to these, and other, questions—can shift a lot, and so can your key message.
3. Do you think there’s an ideal length for a speech?
4. Is there an ideal format for a business presentation?
With few exceptions (like a biography or chronological report), the ideal format for a business speech is an expanded version of the old “tell them what you’re going to tell them… tell them… and tell them what you told them.”
I teach my clients—and have them practice with—a form that’s made up of key message/three supporting points/key message. This form can be used to explain, or argue for, any idea, with any audience. For a longer or more formal speech, you’re going to add other sections (an attention grabber, a preview, etc.); but key message/three supporting points/key message will get you through a surprising number of public speaking challenges.
5. What else are key messages good for?
Handling objections. Q&A. Speaking off the cuff. Media interviews. Structuring a speech. Persuading your audience. Etc.
6. Are there any types of speeches that don’t rely on a key message?
Yes, a biographical speech or a chronological story don’t need a key message. Everything else? Probably.
7. Is there an ideal amount of content for a speech?
Yes. Much less than you think you need.
Still have questions about Content and Messages? Want to book a Speaker Coaching Session to work on them?
Contact me and we’ll set up a time to talk.
Want Some Self-Directed Help?
You’ll find a wealth of information in my public speaking workbook, Speak Like Yourself… No, Really! and my book on job interview skills, Interview Like Yourself… No, Really! They’re like having your own speaker coach between two covers.