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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

Preparing to Master the Stage

Start With the Goal and Work Backwards

In the previous point, we discussed the importance of having an objective for your presentation. Even though the objective is reached at the end of the presentation, it should be the first thing you think of. Your entire presentation will be designed to get to that objective.

What are some possible objectives to a speech or presentation? Are you there to inform, inspire or influence? What do you want your audience to do, to be or to have as a result of your presentation? How will you let them know your intention, and how will you get them to take action?

Once you have clearly defined your goal, a logical next step is to prepare your closing. How you close your presentation or speech will determine what your audience does with the information you’ve provided.

Prepare your closing statement, or your “call to action,” and then consider what your audience needs to know and feel in order for them to take the course of action you recommend. Most audiences are going to require more than personal influence to make changes, to make decisions or to take action, therefore, your presentation must contain compelling arguments to sway them to your way of thinking.

After your goal is clearly defined, and you’ve worked out your call to action, then it’s time to decide what content will best convince your audience to adopt your ideas.

Designing your presentation from the end first is a good way to make sure you include only the relevant information in your presentation, because at each point you can ask yourself, “Does this point help me reach my goal?” It’s difficult to answer that question if you don’t know what the goal is.

So, what’s the lesson? Start from the end and work backward to make sure your presentation supports your goal.

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