If you’re anything like most busy executives, you are accustomed to operating under tight time constraints. In fact, your ability to juggle multiple priorities at the same time is probably an attribute you wear like a badge of honor. But what happens when a high-stakes presentation gets thrown into the mix? On top of everything else you have on your plate, you’re the one lucky enough to be chosen to make a sales pitch to a high-value prospect with the potential to double your business. And, even better, it’s scheduled for next week! What’s your game plan?
Assuming you have one, there’s a high probability your first steps involve a laptop and PowerPoint slides. This is the equivalent of putting icing on a cake before it’s baked. The creative speechwriting process is iterative and highly detailed. The worst thing you can do is skimp on preparation. However, if you find yourself in a situation where time is a luxury you can’t afford, here are five simple and repeatable steps that will cut your preparation time in half and double your impact.
Sniff It Out ― Get clear on the purpose of your speech. The best way to do this is to ask yourself the following clarifying question. What do I want my audience to know, feel, believe and do after listening to me speak?
Point It Out ― As thoughts flow to your mind as a result answering the questions above, write them down as fast as you can in bullet point format. Speed is critical. Do not edit your ideas or extend one point too far. Keep your pen and your thoughts moving.
Sort It Out ― In step 2, you created a jigsaw puzzle. Sort through the pieces and decide which points are keepers and which are sleepers. Cluster the keepers according to stories, key points, and sub-points. Arrange all your points into a sequential, logical flow. Add in your transitions and you have a rough script.
Map It Out ― Plan and sketch your delivery by extracting notes from your full script. Condense your notes as much as possible by clustering words and images to trigger specific thoughts. Memorize your opening and close. Internalize the body of the talk. And then toss your script. Hang on to your notes, but use them sparingly.
Spit It Out ― To borrow from the hip-hop lexicon, spitting into a microphone means creatively expressing yourself orally with the goal of quashing all competitors. That’s close to what I mean here, a confident, clear and compelling delivery—only in a business context.
One proviso: this process is designed to help you save time when unpacking your ideas but, ultimately, the success of your speech will be determined by the quality of your content and delivery. By expediting the creative process, you will have more time to practice your delivery, which will increase your impact. The next time you’re in a pinch, try it out and let me know how it worked out for you!
Dez Thornton is a communications coach who helps you say the right words in the right way when they matter most! For more information, see www.dezthornton.com