What Do I Really Want to Say?

Here is something that frequently happens when I’m working with a client on a speech, talk, or presentation:

  1. We rehearse what they’ve written, which is fine, but almost always takes a while to get to the point.
  2. I ask, “What are you hoping the audience will take away from what you say?”
  3. They tell me, directly and in just a few sentences, what’s important.
  4. I point out that they could say to the audience what they just said to me, and it would be more compelling, more direct, and more personal.
  5. They rewrite their talk.

I am mentioning this not because my clients are doing anything wrong, but because this phenomenon is so widespread (I do it myself). Instead of simply saying what we want to say, we write a long lead-in and complicate the message. In the process, we distance ourselves–and our audience–from its impact.

The next time you need to compose a talk, ask yourself: What do I really want to say? Start there.


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