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VIEWPOINT: A platform for change

“Start with an interesting fact or statistic that you can use to introduce your talk.”

Most people underestimate the value and the privilege of the platform to speak to a group of people. Regardless of whether or you are addressing five or 5 000 people, your purpose is the same – to change beliefs, attitudes, and actions. Let’s look at some techniques that can help you to achieve this.

The first step is to acknowledge that your entire talk is leading up to a call-to-action. A call-to-action is those steps that you want your audience to do next in order to achieve change.

I find it a waste of valuable speaking time to merely provide “information” to your audience – you might as well have sent an email progress update! It is also a fruitless to present a regurgitated form of a full report – saying exactly what your audience can read anyway.

The second step is about having a powerful opening to your talk. It is quite mundane to listen to someone say, “Hi my name is … and today I am going to talk to you about …” Your audience is yawning before you can even get going. Instead try opening your talk with an impactful quote that is engaging and leads into your topic.

How about starting with an interesting fact or statistic that you can use to introduce your talk.

Opening your talk with a definition of a word is also impactful and asking your audience a question that has a high probability of a “yes” answer are impactful ways to commence your talk. After such openings, you can then move on to the introduction and overview of your talk.

The third step involves building the body or content for your talk that is dependent on your time allocation. A typical time allocation is anything from 7 to 90 minutes. Any longer and it’s a workshop.

Most people, if given a longer time slot, tend to provide as much detail as possible. Remember – your role as a speaker is to implement change and you cannot do this if you are effectively overloading your audience with content. Instead, pick out the top 3–5 most important points to focus your talk on. For each point, provide context before talking about the existing challenge and your solution.

When providing solutions, avoid just talking about what to do next. Instead provide samples, conduct a demonstration, show a timeline, or use a personal story or testimonial to prove how your solution could work.

The final step is about having a powerful closing to your talk. Think of ending with a bold statement, a prophetic challenge, a pledge or a promise. Your audience will love you for your level of engagement! ❐

Author: Dineshrie Pillay CA(SA) is a speaker, trainer and workshop facilitator specialising in leadership