Arranging Your Presentation - the Persuasive Speech

Order your speech. Nobody wants to hear idea-hopping chaos.

Arranging Your Presentation - the Persuasive Speech

The types of speeches that most of us give in the work place fall into two camps: the persuasive speech and the information-giving talk. 

Most of us feel more comfortable giving a persuasive speech, if we believe in the thing we’re asking our audience to do or buy. Indeed, some of us can be pretty fanatical about our message. Such passion ignites much excitement in the speaker; there’s just so much to tell the audience about the benefits of bus lanes, hot-desking, organic honey, nasal gouges... 

This excitement produces lots of ideas and material, which is fantastic. But what’s not fantastic is when the speaker delivers it all in no particular order. So he packs everything into the 30 minutes he has; bombarding the audience with copious facts and projections in a rushed, unwieldy way. Yes, the audience heard his enthusiasm but, due to giddy delivery and the absence of structure, it would struggle to repeat the speaker’s strongest persuasion planks to anyone else. 

When approaching a persuasive speech, do feel the excitement and enjoy having a thought-dump, but then be disciplined and apply order. By arranging your thoughts at an early stage you give structure to your argument which means an audience is better able to follow you. There are several ways to arrange an argument, but I’ve yet to find one that beats this:

  1. Grab the audience’s attention.
  2. Dispassionately, set out the cold, hard facts. Do not sell your ideas or product here. 
  3. Present the three most compelling arguments you have that support your case. Remember to consider your audience when you pick your arguments; what might be a very compelling argument for Tuesday’s audience may leave Wednesday’s gathering completely cold. Half of your talk needs to be dedicated to this section.
  4. Say why your opponent’s arguments are false or why their fears are unfounded. Even if you don’t have an actual opposition, consider what naysayers could say. 
  5. End by echoing some of the language, images, themes etc you used in your intro. 

Structure does not hamper expression; rather it gives it a platform on which it can be appreciated. 

Next post - ‘Arranging Your Presentation - the Information-Giving Speech’ 

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