"We're given talking points by the Director. How do we make them interesting to the audience?" This question was asked by a few dozen participants in a leadership training breakout session I delivered on Effective Public Speaking for government leadership.
There are times when you are required to include certain ideas in your public speeches and presentations and the tendancy is to regurgitate them verbatim because it seems risky not to. Here are four workable steps to incorporate the required talking points into a speech or presentation that really does engage and transform your audience:
1. Craft your call-to-action first. Understand what is on the minds of your each specific audience and craft a call-to-action that meets their needs. A Call-to-action includes the subject (the audience or 'you'), a verb (the action they should take) and an object which may be the environment they are to act in or the outcome they desire to achieve.
Samples: "(You) Take a leadership role in this community.
"Offer one fresh idea per week to your colleagues."
"Let's work together to grow sales by 5% in the next quarter."
2. Decide on the 1, 2 or 3 key points that lead to the Call-to-Action. The talking points are not your key points. You'll use the prescribed talking points once you have identified your key points. Key points are short statements that drive to the call-to-action.
Sample: If your call-to-action is "take a leadership role in this community" your key points could be (1) leaders from within the community are more effective than outside leaders; (2) there are many opportunities for leadership; (3) it's easy for you to become a leader.
3. Use the talking points as your High-Impact Content Mix. Most talking points are figures, policy changes, success stories and perhaps funds that will be made available. From the list select those that lead up to the key points.
Sample: If a talking point is about local leadership in other communities, use that point to preceed key point (1). You might simply state the talking point as written, then add to it with a story about how a local leader made a differnce in their community. And so on for each talking point.
4. Craft your attention-getting opening based on the overall flavor or message of the talking points. Do not start with "Today I'm going to talk about how agency/company X has resources for this community."
Sample: "Think about the best qualities of your community. Who are the people who make them possible? Who enjoys the benefits of their efforts? What else would you like to see happen here?"
This gets the audience involved and attentive because the focus is on them, not you or your agency/company. This also is dirctly connected to your call-to-action, which is urging them to take leadership roles themselves.
Use our comment box to share how you have used 'talking points' effectively in your own speeches or presentations or ask a question about how to do this.