What are the 5 most important quick ideas for improving your public speaking?  I’m going to go for broke this week and blog on 5 quick takes in 5 days.  Put them together and you should have a good ‘cheat sheet’ for fulfilling your resolution to improve your public speaking in 2012. 

3.  Don’t start with Power Point.   Most people create a presentation by sifting through the collection of slides they’ve accumulated – and maybe a few from Ed down the hall – and grabbing the ones that seem vaguely relevant to the talk.  Then, a little shuffling around, and maybe a few new slides, and you’re good to go, right?

Wrong.  That almost guarantees that your talk will be a collection of slides, weakly linked together, rather than a strong story, a narrative that makes sense for your audience and engages them for the full 45 minutes.  The collection of slides may make sense to you, because you already know the territory, but will it to the audience, who is hearing the talk for the first time?  Unlikely.

Instead, think of a talk as a series of steps you take the audience on, beginning by framing the idea, then delving into the problem, then the solution, then closing with the action that you want the newly convinced audience to take.  Figure out what you want to say for each of those 4 steps, and then – and only then – decide if a slide will help illustrate each step.   That's an audience-focused speech.  It takes a little more work than shuffling slides, but your audience's response will make it worthwhile.   

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