Thanks Given

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What is the number one technique that people thank me for? As my thanks to you this Thanksgiving, I want to give you the gift that I’m most thanked for.

I have a database of over 700 communication and public speaking techniques that I use or recommend. My SpeechDeck Essentials product contains details on the 84 most “essential” public speaking techniques.

But even with thousands of hours I’ve spent on those presentation skills and tips, there is ONE bit of advice that people thank me for more than anything else.

Start with Clarity

2000px-sillitoe_tartan_black_and_white-svgI love coaching people on style. I love helping people make their communication more colorful. I love teaching public speaking tips that help with interaction, memory, impact, persuasion, ans flare.

BUT, none of that matters if you don’t have clarity. No amount of color can help you if your core message isn’t black and white. No presentation technique will save you, if the audience doesn’t understand you.

The advice that people thank me for most often is the first thing I work on with every client–“Clarifying Content.”

How to Clarify

How you clarify is simple–you write a headline. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You’ve read it before on my blog, but this one principle is so important it bears repeating:

Summarize your message in ONE headline sentence

I know it sounds overly simple. It sounds overly obvious. It sounds overly insignificant. I’ve worked with hundreds of people. Trust me. It matters!

Summarize your message in ONE headline sentence

Tell me what your whole presentation is about in ONE sentence

Tell me what each subsection of your presentation is about in ONE sentence.

Tell my the point you are trying to make with each example or slide in ONE sentence.

If you’ve taken my public speaking training courses or read my blog, you already know this. I’m not asking you to KNOW it, I’m asking you to DO it.

Many people don’t do it because they want their messages to sound more detailed or complex. Many people don’t do it because it seems repetitive. Many people don’t do it because for many people it’s hard. Many people don’t do it because for many people it’s easy!

newspaper-152320_960_720Do it anyway!

When you tell me a story … follow it with ONE sentence that explains the takeaway message — the HEADLINE.

When you read me a quote … follow it with ONE sentence that explains your emphasis — the HEADLINE.

When you give me statistics, research, proofs, or numbers … follow it with ONE sentence that explains the point — the HEADLINE.

When you show me a picture, a slide, a video, or an object lesson … don’t forget to add ONE sentence that tells me why it matters — the HEADLINE.

When you transition from each section or subsection to the next … give me the sub-HEADLINE sentence for the section before you move on.

When you’re done speaking, don’t sit down until you repeat the overreaching ONE SENTENCE takeaway message that you want me to remember.

99% of people that hire me aren’t doing it!
If you do it, you’ll automatically be in the top 1%!

Summarize your message in ONE headline sentence

Clarity = ONE SENTENCE
Do it!

Thank You

When someone hires me, we begin with clarity 100% of the time. Very often the first hour or two we spend together is spent trying to fix the structure and organization of a presentation so that each example and sub-point can truly be summarized in one sentence.

It’s the least fun part of coaching–for both of us.

Nevertheless, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve worked with someone for an hour or more. It’s very common for people to feel like my insistence on a ONE sentence summary is too simple, too hard, too repetitive, too restrictive, too boring — whatever.

On the other hand I cannot tell you how many times those same individuals after they work through the process of creating a ONE sentence headline experience an ah-ha moment.

I cannot tell you how many people who were unsure of the need at the beginning, swear by the advice at the end.

Creating a ONE sentence summary changes everything:

  1. It makes you more organized
  2. It makes you easier to remember
  3. It makes you easy to follow
  4. It makes it harder to forget your lines
  5. It makes it easy to add colorful style
  6. It makes it easier to improvise
  7. It reduces your anxiety

Frankly, the list could go on, it makes almost everything easier.

I cannot tell you how many people who were unsure of the need at the beginning, swear by the advice at the end.

More than any other compliment I receive from my clients I hear this:

Thank you for making me write a headline sentence!

This Thanksgiving, thank you for supporting my blog. Thank you in advance for for taking the advice. Thank you for giving your audience a clear, once sentence summary of your message.

Just in case you missed the headline sentence of this article (even though it’s not actually in the “headline”)–here it is again:

Summarize your message in ONE headline sentence

If you do, I promise at your next presentation there will be “thanks given.” They’ll thank you for it!

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Michael

I've spent my life studying what makes some communicators great in a sea of mediocrity. When I discovered the science of psychology, I found the answer, and created SpeechDeck, the first principle-centered, color-coded system that gets you more attention, more influence, and better results.

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