Not to say you can’t speak off-the-cuff here and there, think on your feet. That’s actually a great thing to do, and helps lighten the mood, making you and your audience more at ease.
But you can’t allow yourself to run off onto tangents that will leave your audience wondering what in the world you’re talking about.
To keep yourself close to that central theme you’ve prepared, while not forcing yourself into reading a full manuscript or reciting a memorized speech, you simply need to keep in mind your main points.
What is your point anyway?
Isn’t that what we’re always thinking when someone starts taking up our time speaking to us? We may be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but if they just keep gabbing on and on and on, eventually the needle on our BS meter starts pinging and we start asking the question above.
Your audience is no different.
Which is why when you’re preparing your speech, writing up your outline, developing your theme, it’s important to make special note of the main points that you want to cover.
Make sure these points are crystal-clear in your mind so that, even if you wing it a little bit up there, you always know where you need to come back to.
Three points to keep in mind about points
- Don’t try to cram too many points into a speech. If you have 30 minutes to work with, you might be able to fully develop five main points, if they’re not too complicated. If you have more time, you’ll need to decide if you’re better off adding more points to cover, or covering less points more thoroughly.
- Make sure each one of your main points is covered well enough to stand alone. If you start speaking, introduce your first point, run through that point and get to the moment where you’re about to start in on your second when you suddenly keel over with a compacted colon and have to be rushed off to the hospital for a triple methylmoscocolonoscopy… at least your audience will be able to take home one solid point.
- Prepare to highlight each main point multiple times. Not in full, of course, but through strategic repetition. For instance, mention them in your introduction, highlight each in turn as you go through your speech, then repeat them again in summary in your conclusion. Repetition is the mother of retention.
Remember next time you’re speaking, whether to one person or a thousand, they’re probably going to ask themselves “what the heck is your point?”
Don’t disappoint them!
Do you have any points to share about points? Point it out in the comments!