Regardless whether you are in a professional setting or at home you are constantly required to talk, to share information, to answer questions, to influence others, to sell your ideas. It is not just about long public speeches. It is about every single communication or dialog you have. Toastmasters International, organization dedicated helping people improve their communication skills, provides you with some of the tools and skills you need to master the ability to communicate your ideas in a succinct matter and get the message across. So how do you organize your speech in a way that is easy to follow and gets the job done? The general rule is to stick with basics and have a clear beginning, body and end. Then you can follow one of the patterns for speeches described below.
Let’s say that you are supposed to respond to this question: “Would you like chicken or beef for lunch today?”
Position – Reason – Example – Point
Do you have a great idea and you want to persuade others to accept it? This pattern may help you. Just explain your position, reasons why you hold it, give examples to build credibility and finish with repeating your key point.
Example: [position] Chicken is much better than beef. [reason] It is easy to chew and easy to digest. It is also less demanding on mother nature to grow chickens than cattle. [example] Just remember last week when we got chicken with rice and everyone loved it. [point] Let’s get chicken also today.
Arresting Introduction – Interest – Desire – Action
Do you want to spark action? This might be a good patter to use. Grab the attention of the audience with a powerful image, build up the interest, focus on desires of the audience and finish with a call to action.
Example: [arresting introduction] Chickens rule the World! Do you know that it is the most popular meat? [interest] Every day there are millions of chickens being eaten in 200 countries and everyone loves them. [desire] Just imagine the great taste of roasted chicken with rice, it just invites you to get a piece. [action] So let’s go and get some chicken right now.
Story – Message – Gain
This is a good pattern to use when mentoring other people. You can pick a story from your past that carries the message you want to get across and ends with the point you want to make.
Example: [story] Remember last week when we went for lunch and got chicken with rice? We were also thinking about what to get and at the end decided that chicken is the right choice. [message] It was a great meal and in fact we all agreed that chicken is our favorite animal especially when cooked. [gain] We all enjoyed it, so let’s do it again.
Past – Present – Future
This pattern can be nicely used when creating a vision for your audience. You can start with the description of what happened, where we are today and what the future holds.
Example: [past] Since I was a kid I enjoyed chickens. They were my favorite food and I was always looking forward to have some. [present] Even today when I think about light lunch the first thing that comes to mind is a chicken with rice. [future] In fact I can see that there won’t be anything better even in the future so let’s just get chicken.
Advantage – Disadvantage
You can use this pattern when you want to persuade someone to pick one of several options.
Example: [advantage] Let’s look at pros and cons. The chickens are easy to breed, they are tasty, easy to digest and the chef in the restaurant we are going to really knows how to make them. [disadvantage] The disadvantage is that we had chicken last week but honestly, who cares, the advantages outweigh it. Let’s just get chicken.
I would suggest you consciously practice these in your everyday communication. And it is not just about your spoken communication, you can follow them even when writing emails or preparing powerpoint presentations.
Twitter type summary: “The ability to organize thoughts into a short and powerful speech is the first step towards communication mastery.”
How do you structure your presentation? Do you follow some guidelines that always worked for you? Share your tips and tricks below.