Posted by: George E Burney | October 16, 2013

Master Your Main Points

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When organizing a presentation, you eventually reach the point where you’ve done your research and prepared your outline. You’ve listed your main points and the minor points which support the main points. You may even have prepared your introduction and your conclusion. Now you’re ready to learn your presentation. You’re ready to rehearse it, right? Perhaps, and perhaps not.

Do You Really Believe It?

There may be another matter to consider before settling down to rehearse the presentation. Ask yourself: How sold are you on the main ideas you’ll present? Yes, you’ve created the framework of a presentation and you could now move on to rehearsing it. But if you skip the step I’m recommending, you’ll miss a golden opportunity to develop rock-solid confidence in what you’ll later share with an audience. That type of confidence in your presentation helps you to approach the podium (the elevated platform) and the lectern (the speaker’s stand) with assurance.

Research usually means that you’ve found out what others, perhaps those recognized as experts, have said or written on the subject. But that tells you only what they think. The question still remains, what do you think? Do you agree with them, and if so, why? The authors of your source materials gave reasons for their conclusions, but are they convincing to you? Remember, it’s very difficult to convince others if you’re not thoroughly convinced yourself.

Analyze Your Main Points

Test the validity of their ideas by asking: Could the opposite be true? Is there another, a better way of viewing it? No? Why not? By doing this, you’re training yourself to analyze the ideas. If you can come down squarely on one side of the issue and you can support your conclusions with proof that satisfies you, that idea is now yours.

You now master that idea, for all intents and purposes. You’re not presenting some other person’s thinking, you’re saying what you’re convinced is true. The opinions of the experts now simply support what you believe. You can use those ideas in your presentation with confidence.

You may quickly find that you’re completely convinced of each of the main points in your outline. If so, great. You can now move on to perfecting your delivery. On the other hand, if you’re doubtful of the soundness of any main point, you shouldn’t use it. If additional research and thought don’t erase that doubt, remove that point from your outline. The only honest way to use it would be by saying, “On this point, you’re free to decide for yourself. Here are the pros and cons….”

Master Your Main Ideas

To master public speaking, you don’t need to try to master the audience. Instead, focus on mastering the ideas you’ll present. Know them well, so well that you could say them several different ways. Are you able to simplify each main idea so that everybody can easily understand it? If so, do that. How well you can explain a point is an excellent indicator of how well you understand it.

That brings us full circle. Make sure you understand and believe everything you say, and your reasons for doing so. Then, if you share what you believe with enthusiasm, you’re likely to give a very convincing presentation.

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