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Your presentation MUST have a key message. Leave your audience in absolutely no doubt what you came to tellthem. Don't lead them up to your messages - they won't stay the course. Hit them between the eyes with yourmessage right up front. You should provide your key message
within the first 15 seconds
of starting your talk.Research shows that if you don't do this you risk losing the attention of your audience.Writing your key message should be the most time consuming and difficult part of preparing your talk. Indeed, if youdo not spend enough time on thinking through your key message you may well be wasting your time - and that ofyour audience - when you come to give your presentation. Poorly prepared key messages are frequently theproblem that lies behind badly written talks and speeches.Your key message should contain:The main action or change in behaviour you want your audience to take as a result of listening to youReference to the audienceReference to an example that you'll elaborate onA good key message might be:
Since you are all marketing managers, I'm convinced that by the end of this morning's talkyou'll be absolutely determined to use our new marketing software that allows you to gainaccess to research reports in a flash. In fact I'm sure you'll be so impressed you'll be wanting acopy in the next 30 minutes.
As you can see this message says:
it is for - marketing managers
they will do - use the new software
they will do it - to gain access to research
they will do it - in the next 30 minutesThis message is also just 55 words long, which means
you can say it in 18 seconds
. Indeed, if no-one wishes tolisten to you after those opening 20 seconds they will still have understood what you have come to tell them. Theremainder of your talk would just be the detail - but your message will have hit home without it.Having said that, a good key message with a '
call to action
' like the example (
you'll be wanting a copy in the next 30 minutes
) means that your audience will be hungry for more, so they will carry on listening.To make sure they have got the message, though, make sure you repeat it right at the end of your talk. This helpsensure the late arrivals also know what your message was.
is answering the audience's inevitable question as to
they should take up your call toaction.
| © Graham Jones 2002