DEFINING MOMENTS

Ten points for developing an effective script

SOAP
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1. Empathize

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Try to see the context from their point of view, considering their strengths and weaknesses. Through speech and images, work to create an emotional connection with the audience members. The more you understand your listeners, and the more they feel included in your message, the better your presentation will be.

2. Focus

Focusing on what is relevant is the key to a good presentation. Don’t insert irrelevant passages in your script. Instead, value your time and that of your audience. Have in mind all the important points as you stand before them.

3. Give information in the right “doses”

When tweaking your presentation, be careful not to leave out relevant information because you assume your audience already knows it. Here, it’s important to know the information quotient of your listeners. Try to neither underestimate nor overestimate this. If there’s no chance to meet audience members in advance, ask them about their backgrounds at the start of your presentation. If you do this, you can speak more superficially about some things and more deeply about others, the end result being you talk neither too much nor too little about the points you want to make.

4. Use just enough relevant detail

People tend to want to reveal everything in a single meeting – but this may affect your presentation and the business you’re working to promote. Avoid shooting in all directions: have clear goals for each stage of a transaction. If you want to pique the interest of your audience for something, share the details in a second meeting, or send audience members e-mail information if requested. Remember: presentations can be great for conveying broad concepts. The specifics can always be shared afterward in meetings and/or documents that can be analyzed calmly and individually.

5. Be specific

Without exaggerating, conveying detailed information is great for impacting an audience, as such detail tends to awaken confidence in the audience and attract the attention of the audience. So: saying that “each year more beer is being drunk in Brazil” is giving real information, but it’s too vague to be acted on. On the other hand, saying that: “In 2009, 10.91 billion liters of beer were manufactured and sold in Brazil.” conveys solid, hard-hitting and actionable information.

6. Cite reference points

When talking about very large or very small numbers, it might be useful if you help the listener to be able to visualize what the numbers really mean. For example, in our Brazilian beer example we talked about 10.91 billion liters of beer. Will this number make sense to your audience? Will it have the impact you want it to have? No? Then try this: “In 2009, 10.91 billion liters of beer were manufactured and sold in Brazil, enough beer to fill over 4,300 Olympic-size swimming pools.” See? By providing a frame of reference you have conveyed the true impact of the very large number and facilitated audience retention of the information.

7. Don’t speak in too-technical terms

Speak at the level of your listeners. If you’re not sure of the level of technical expertise of your audience, assume that the technical people understand their own language, but not everybody else does. If in doubt, use layman’s terminology wherever possible.

8. Avoid egocentrism

When you’re in front of an audience, avoid self-praise. (this also applies to ideas, projects and products). Dispense facts and information about your product/service, and let audience members come to their own conclusions about its value. Just remember that the qualities perceived by an audience have much more impact and staying power than those pushed on an audience by a presenter. A good script leads an audience to come to its own conclusions about the strengths/weaknesses of what is being presented.

9. Don’t get into mission, values and differences

In a speech to new employees of your company, the mission and values are important. But is that information relevant to your customers? Probably not. So keep that kind of information inside, for discussion with your team. Outside the company, in external presentations, focus instead on the people you’re speaking to and on their objectives. Instead of telling an audience who you are and listing the things that make you different from your competition, talk about how your product/service can improve the lives of the audience members. And even more important than your differences is how they complement those of your audience. Developing presentations from this perspective can significantly change the way messages are received.

10. Pay attention to the examples you use

Examples can be a double-edged sword. When used well, examples can enhance credibility and contribute to securing the trust of the audience (supplying research data to support ideas and concepts, for example). But when examples are inadequate (imparting too much unnecessary, detailed information about a competitor, for example), it can shake up an entire presentation and lead to a result neither intended nor desired.

Finally:

When you’ve finished your script, see whether it works as a speech (without visual aids). If you decide that it does, then you’ve created a good presentation. The next step can be to invest time and energy in the visuals.






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