Preparation. Procrastination. Both begin with P. Both are factors before a speech or presentation. And both are easy to conquer.
In fact, preparation can conquer procrastination … but only if it’s super simple. And that’s actually easier than you’d think. So let’s be realistic about preparation, let’s talk about being efficient and effective, let’s talk about what to do when you only have a few minutes to prepare.

Hold onto these 3 shortcuts:
        1. Know your JOB. Are you supposed to inform, entertain, persuade, educate, introduce? What is the communications verb that best describes what you are supposed to do in your talk? Once you know your job, you can focus, and it will help you eliminate extraneous material and relieve you of having to create and deliver a magnum opus.

For instance, if you have been asked to make the welcoming remarks at a nonprofit fundraiser, then you simply need to welcome; you do not need to prepare and present the history of the organization.  

2      2. Have a FOCAL POINT. What is the one thing you want your audience to know, think, do or feel when they leave the room? There is always that something. And that is your focal point. Be transparent and direct, use your focal point as part of your talk … et voilà, you have your opening and closing!  Giving your audience clear guidance helps ensure that they actually do leave the room knowing, thinking, doing or feeling what you want them to.

Let’s continue with the example of you making welcoming remarks at the fundraiser. Let’s say your focal point is that you need your audience to give more volunteer hours in the coming year. So, one option for your opening (and adaptable for closing too) is, “Welcome to tonight’s event. You’ll hear from a variety of people tonight, and you’ll have plenty of time to socialize, but it is my desire that you leave here tonight even more committed to our organization and even more inspired to make your donation this year in volunteer hours.” Focal point set.

3      3. Limit the INFO. Unless you are delivering a technical paper or research findings at a scientific or medical conference, you can probably do without a lot of detailed information. Think about your topic, and what is most significant about your topic to your specific audience, and then plan to tell your audience the significance while limiting the supporting info to anecdotes and/or memorable facts, details or data. You can never deliver all the info on a topic anyway, so take the pressure off yourself and be prepared only to talk about the significance with a few quickie, retainable tidbits of info as backup.

In a nutshell, if you 1) are mindful about your “job” and stay in your lane, 2) know your “focal point,” what you want to ask of your audience, and 3) know what’s significant about your topic and only use “info” as backup, you are ready to go … !

Beth Levine