Lessons Beyond the Meeting

Cityscape 045

Organize your speech

As a new Toastmaster Marci is learning to plan and structure her speech to best involve her audience and to most clearly – in five to seven minutes – convey her message.

When her boss wants her to “let the committee know next week . . . “she can rely on what she is learning as she completes projects in her Competent Communications program.

At the heart of a successful presentation is a clear structure.

  1. You might be called upon to report progress.  In that case:

Describe the issue or assignment, including why it’s important, then the critical problems and their priority. Discuss progress, close with a summary or a call to action (allocate more funds to my unit).

  1. Or to recommend a strategy:

Contrast the current conditions and the desired state, then define the objective. List the possible strategies, with pros and cons of each. Identify the best solution and describe the next steps.

  1. Or to persuade your audience of the excellence of a particular product, service, or idea: 

Frame the need that the product addresses and show that it exists here and now. Explain how your product addresses that need. Briefly outline the implementation and get agreement on the next step.

  1. Or to teach a procedure:

Frame the procedure as important to the audience, give an overview (and demonstration) of the procedure. Then demonstrate the procedure one step at a time, explaining each. Have audience members try some or all of the steps. Review and summarize, then describe what the audience can do to acquire or improve their performance of the procedure.

Notice that each suggested organization begins with the problem, covers the solutions, reiterates and summarizes, and calls for action.

Marci can select the organization for her talk by first breaking it into Question, possible and best answers, review, and call for action. These are the same considerations she practices with prepared speeches and even with Table Topics questions during her Toastmasters education.

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