One of the most frequently asked questions I get at the beginning of a Presentation Skills Training workshop is “how can I make my point?”

I like to turn that around and suggest that we explore the question “how can I make my audience remember my point?” (Yes, I’m always suggesting a subtle mindset shift from egocentric thinking and communicating to audience-centric thinking and communicating.)
Enter the Message Sandwich!

First ingredient: the message. For every major idea you need to get across – it may be a section of your presentation or the material you’re sharing at a meeting – there’s an important statement to be made. That statement is a message.

And here’s how to find it …

If you are engaged in some form of persuasion (selling, motivating, influencing), the message will convey the significance or benefit or value of what you’re putting out there. If you are engaged in some form of education (informing, reviewing, updating), the message will be more of a capture statement that summarizes the material.

A shortcut to finding the message is by going straight to your conclusion. Ask yourself, how would I conclude? What would I say to wrap up? What is it about this chunk of material that I would want them to take away? Interestingly, we usually save the best for last.

Yet I’m saying, use the best for first and last.

Your message then becomes the top and the bottom slice of bread – i.e. the statement you use to open and close your point.

What’s in the middle of your sandwich? Information. Background, detail, supporting data and statistics, stories and anecdotes.

All too often we lead with information, tons of it. We build a case and then conclude with the message. So forget about evidence first, conclusion last. Go for the sandwich: conclusion-evidence–conclusion; message–info–message.

Reinforcement of your message is the only hope for your audience’s retention of it. Good luck!

Beth Levine