In celebrating our 21st Anniversary last month, we were reminded of several other lessons we’ve learned, which are worth passing on. So here goes:
What’s in it for the audience? Write this line at the top of your document and before you write anything else, answer it. Whether it’s a proposal or a presentation you will have taken one giant step forward in focusing on your target and giving them something worth listening to. Communication ends where boredom begins.
A single message: If you throw 3 balls at a person they may not even catch one. If you throw one ball, they will almost certainly catch it. It’s the same for delivering a message, have one strong simple message and everybody will get it. Ask Donald Trump!
Beginning, Middle & End: Presentations are like books, films and stories. They need a structure we can follow. Peter Ustinov, the famous actor, said: “Good presentations have excellent beginnings, fine endings and as little as possible in between.” What can you cut without loss?
You are the message: An audience judges your message in the way they judge you. Do they feel you’re interested in them and their problems? Have they learned something new? If they don’t think you care, they’re unlikely to like your message. Make them glad they heard you.
Start a Storybook: The fastest way to engage an audience is to start with a story, preferably one about you – funny, sad, surprising, authentic. When you next hear a good story, whatever the source, write it down in your Storybook. Fortune favours the better prepared.