When you stand before an audience to give a speech, you take on a responsibility that’s somewhat like that of a wilderness tour guide.
Your audience is putting themselves in your hands.
They’re about to venture into new territory — a series of ideas that may be unfamiliar to them — and you’re the one who’s going to bring them safely through the experience.
Imagine being dragged through a multi-day wilderness trip by a guide who never tells you where you’re going, how long it will take, or what happens next. Wouldn’t you rather have a guide who says, “Good morning, everyone. Today we’re going to hike for three miles before we stop at a beautiful stream for breakfast. After that, it’s another mile to the river, where we’ll pick up some kayaks for a two-hour paddle. Then we’ll…”
Most people are more comfortable when they know where they’re going—and that’s why you want to lead your audience.
When Your Talk is Clearly Structured, No One Will Get Lost!
When your speech is well-constructed — when one idea logically follows the next, building toward a clear conclusion — your audience will find it much easier to follow along, and you’ll find it much easier to both lead and persuade them.
But that’s not the only benefit of having a clear structure!
You benefit, too; because a speech that moves logically from one point to the next isn’t just easier to follow, it’s also easier to deliver.
So use the Instant Speech format to create a basic outline, and then build out your three sections so that each of them makes sense to you.
Because, when you know the logic behind your presentation, you’ll be able to lead your audience through it with confidence.
Use Transitions to Lead Your Audience
I’ve written about the importance of transitioning when you use PowerPoint slides. But PowerPoint isn’t the only place where transitions are helpful to your audience — they also make what you’re saying more clear.
That’s because transitions tell your audience where you they’ve been and where you’re going next; and the more simply they do that, the better:
We’ve talked about transitioning between PowerPoint slides. Now let’s look at how to transition between the ideas you’re explaining.
See how that works?
Finish one section, start the next one, and in between, tell everyone what you’re doing.
Lead Your Audience by Letting Them Lead You
Another way to find out whether your audience is with you every step of the way is to ask them — and I mean that literally.
You can actually say things like,
Is everyone good with that point? Great, let’s talk about…
Is everyone good with that point? Not quite? OK, let me clarify…
Of course, you don’t have to verbalize the question. You can often learn what you need to know by “listening” to your audience. But if you want to ask, go ahead — and use the feedback you receive to fine-tune how you’re leading your audience through your speech.
In 25 years of speaker coaching, I’ve helped my individual speaker coaching clients develop their strengths and skills to become authentic and effective communicators.
Along the way, I’ve developed tips for everything from small talk to speaking up in meetings, from managing fear to making an impact.
And now, I’ve shared it all in 100 Top Public Speaking Tips: The Book. This beautifully designed PDF booklet is searchable, clickable, and categorized, so that you can find what you need, instantly.