“To break the rules, you must first master them,” says the advertisement for an Audemars Piguet watch in the New York Times.
What works for this watch company also works for giving a presentation.
You have to master the rules of giving a great speech first. Then you can break them… sometimes.
Here is your rule book.
Rule: Have a dynamic opener for your speech.
When/how to break this rule: Your first words set the tone of your presentation. This rule is pretty concrete! BUT – here’s how to bend the rule. When you prepare to give a speech, strategize from the inside first by answering these questions. What do you want to say? What are your main points? What’s in it for the audience? Once you’ve put together your message THEN figure out how you will begin. Your first words are crucial but you don’t have to write them first when designing your message.
Rule: Use vivid stories to support your data.
When/how to break this rule: Stories do make your message stick. You will have more energy and better traction when you support your material with compelling (and well crafted) stories. BUT – you have to be aware of time and timing. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to share the story OR your story may not resonate due to current events, concerns in your organization, or issues with your C-Suite. You have to pick, choose, edit and…yes… delete stories when necessary.
Rule: Have a compelling conclusion.
When/how to break this rule: It’s been said that a great ending can save a bad speech. Maybe. As a Speak For Yourself® blog reader this won’t happen to you! You know how to give a great speech. But here is when you can break the rule of having a clincher conclusion. You can end just with your “call to action”. You have to tell us what action steps come as a result of listening to you. That is a non-breakable rule. But, due to timing or your company culture, you may not need or want to add on a compelling final quote/story/visual.
Master the rules first. Then bend or break with discretion.
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Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with decision makers on how to speak with gravitas. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Karen also speaks about her cousin, Albert Einstein, in a message about hope, resilience and brassieres.
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Karen Cortell Reisman, MS, Executive Communication Author & Speaker