***In Part 1, I discussed the differences between a speech and a presentation. And, while they have their differences, the format for the speech and the presentation are exactly the same whether you dealing with an informative or a persuasive piece. In all good speechwriting, you will find that both speeches and presentations consist of an opening, a development, and a closing.
Whereas your development will be the lengthiest and most comprehensive part of your work, the opening and the closing are your clinchers. They are also the most difficult to create. A strong opening will grab your listeners’ attention immediately. “Today, I’m going to talk to you about…” is not a grabber.
As long as it is pertinent to your topic, that which opens your presentation could be a question, a joke, an anecdote, a current event, or even a brief story. These types of openers will draw your audience in. Questions are wonderful because they make your speech or presentation more interactive; and, humor always works (as long as it is truly funny) because an audience’s laughter builds your confidence and makes them wanting more. So by sparking their interest, you then have a receptive audience.
In the development, decide on your major points and limit them. “The 22 reasons you should believe what I say, do what I tell you, or buy what I’m selling…” are 22 reasons they won’t. That is far too many. Every book on public speaking will tell you that 5 main points are the maximum. (Tell that one to Stephen Covey!) The more points you have, the more difficult for the audience to follow you. By and large, anywhere between 2 and 5 major points is ideal. If, for example, you were to give an informative presentation on how to make chocolate chip cookies, you might wonder how you would list each of the steps if each step were a major point. Depending on the recipe, you could be looking at 10 -12 steps or 10 – 12 major points. Instead, group the process differently.
I Main Point: Cream butter & sugar with electric mixer.
Subpoint: Add eggs.
Subpoint: Continue beating.
II Main Point: Add dry ingredients
Subpoint: Description of dry ingredients
Subpoint: Add grated chocolate and vanilla.
Subpoint: Mix in chips.
III Main Point: Drop onto greased cookie sheets.
Subpoint: Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
So in creating your development, list the major points that you want to cover and then expound on those points by means of subpoints and even sub-subpoints.
In the majority of situations, your closing is a call to action for your audience. They came to hear you; they came to learn from you. So it is your job, at this point, to move them to action. Generally, the presentations we attend or the speeches we hear are asking something from the audience. If you have just toasted the groom, then your closing statement should elicit applause. If you have just given a 40-minute presentation on starting a home-based business, then your closing statements need to move them to buy your CDs in the back of the room.
Therefore, in formulating your closing remarks, think about what you want from your audience and build your statements around those ideas. You can briefly summarize your major points (not a good idea with the chocolate chip cookie recipe), you can end with a question, you can refer to your opening, or you can say something dramatic.
•Let your audience know that you are closing, and then do it. A 10-minute closing is not a closer!
In Part 3 of The Speech Versus The Presentation, I will be looking at the delivery style of both formats.
Nancy Daniels is a voice specialist and president of Voice Dynamic as well as The Official SelfGrowth.com Guide to Public Speaking. Working privately and corporately, she launched Voicing It! in April of 2006, the first video training course on voice improvement. You can watch a clip from her DVD on her website, ‘before’ & ‘after’ takes of her clients, and a video in which Nancy describes what voice training can do for you at www.voicedynamic.com/products.htm
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