Imagine yourself as a guide, providing safe passage through dangerous surroundings, showing people the beauty and wonder around them and getting them home for dinner.
Obviously, these people who have paid you to guide them are interested in seeing the sites and living to tell about it.
But how much are they going to appreciate your expertise if you lead them all over creation and back again on the most mind-bending bass-ackwards route you could imagine?
You see, there’s an unwritten, unspoken understanding between the guide and the guided that the guide is going to know the best way to go, and the guided can be confident they’re taking that route.
As a public speaker, you’ve been asked to guide your audience to a full understanding of your topic.
If you’re speaking in front of a crowd, especially if they’ve asked you to come or they’ve paid to listen to you, they’re most likely interested in your subject. This is good. Makes things a lot easier on you.
But it’s not the end of the story.
You can still lose them.
By being a blind guide.
Don’t be that guy.
Make sure you show them the best route:
Make sure you cover the material in full
If you’re traveling through difficult or dangerous terrain, as a guide you need to be prepared. You need to know the area well, know its dangers, its available resources, where you can go for help, and who you can trust. You also need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your clients so you don’t carry them in over their head.
That way, you can plan a route that accomplishes the goal in a way everyone can appreciate.
In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of picking your main points and covering them adequately. This is vital to make sure you don’t overwhelm or bore your audience.
Don’t allow extraneous points to work their way into the talk just because you like talking about them. It’s not the best route. You’re guiding them the wrong way.
You want to cover the material in full, but you need to remember that the audience is the final judge of your success in that area. For the topic to be covered to the audience’s satisfaction, not just your own, you need to make sure every point you highlight is necessary, and that its necessity is obvious.
Make sure those points are in the right order
Planning your route through difficult terrain requires a serious eye for efficiency. God forbid you get 2/3 of the way through the desert, then run out of water.
In the same way, while you may be able to confidently confirm that every single point you intend to cover is necessary and beneficial. But if they’re in the wrong order to be logically understood by your audience, you’re heading the wrong way.
Think of it this way:
When Moses led the Israelites wandering through the wilderness for 40 years, he may have been pretty sure of what he was doing, but how did his audience feel about it?
Use adequate transitional phrases
Finally, if you have all the points you need and no more, and you have all those points in the most logical (efficient) order, you just need to tie it all together to make sure your speech is coherent and easy to follow.
What are transitional phrases?
- in addition,
- for these reasons,
- in view of the foregoing,
- so then,
- on the other hand,
- on the contrary
All of these words and phrases (and many more like them,) tie thoughts together in a logical way that the human brain latches onto very easily.
They serve as markers to the listener’s mind flagging down the conscious mind and letting it know we’re moving forward, and this is the way to go.
In other words, they serve as directions from an expert guide.
So, as you’re developing your speech, give thought to the depth of coverage of your point from the audience’s perspective. Make sure all the right points are included, and nothing they don’t need. Then, make sure those points are in the right order to logically and efficiently take them from their current state to full understanding. Finally, make sure those points are tied together with effective transitional phrases to make sure they follow you the whole way.
Just like the expert guide you are.