Whenever you speak to an audience, you are inviting them on a journey. You want them to be able to follow you easily and successfully along your message journey. There are eight things you can do to help them join in with your message and travel along with you to your desired destination for them:
(1) Every time you stand in front of a group people to speak to them, they all have 3 questions in their minds for you: Do I like this person? Do I trust this person? What’s the point? If people don’t feel satisfied about these three questions, they will not journey with you, and you will not get them to your desired destination for them. You’ve got to earn their trust right away, or you will lose them. Be real and open; be direct and clear.
(2) Begin with the end in mind. Where is this message headed? What’s the destination? Where are going? What’s the point? Every listener wants to know that the journey you want to take them on in this message is relevant for their lives. They want to know what qualifies you to take them on this particular journey (are you real, reliable, trustworthy?). If you pass those two tests, your audience is far more likely to journey with you through your message.
(3) Remember that while you have been thinking about your message for maybe 3-4 weeks, your audience has not been thinking about it at all. Therefore, make your steps along the message journey clear and easy for them to follow. If you go too fast, or jump too far ahead, you will leave people behind, and they will not be able to reach the destination with you. Is your message clear? Sequential? Easy for someone to follow who hasn’t been thinking about it and working on it for 3 weeks like you have?
(4) Give a one-point message. Fully develop one strong point, and then describe it in several different ways. Reduce your single message down to a simple, memorable sentence, and repeat it often throughout the message. If you can’t express your own main point in a simple, memorable thought, then none of your listeners will be able to either. Someone once said, “If it’s foggy in the pulpit, it’s mist in the pew.” Very little of what you say will be remembered. So, what’s the one take-away you want to stay with people? If they only remember one thing, what do you want that one thing to be? Now, focus your entire message around that one thing.
(5) End with a call to action. Don’t leave your audience hanging, wondering what to do next. Now that we have reached this desired destination together, now what? What do you want the people to DO next? Don’t leave it nebulous. Be specific; be instructive; be directive.
(6) Script your first and last sentences. Know by the heart the very first sentence you want to say, and the very last sentence you are going to say. These are the top two sentences that can ruin your message. Make them successful by scripting out exactly how you want them to go, giving your message a powerful and purposeful beginning and end.
(7) Don’t take a thousand words to say what should be said in a hundred. Your words accomplish more when they are fewer in number. The potency of your message gets watered down by too many words.
(8) Facts and stats don’t move people; stories move people. Facts aren’t memorable; stories are memorable. If while preparing your message you realize you have too much material – you have lots of excellent information and a great story to tie it all together, but it’s too much content – keep the story, but trim down the info to only the most essential points the people will need in order to journey with you to your desired destination in this particular message.