CREATE A SCRIPT TO MAKE PEOPLE SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE
(This is part 3 of a 5-part series, June 2020).
Most of us have a short attention span these days. We’ve been programmed for that. Still, as a presenter, you probably have a lot to say! So, how do you plan a script for your presentations that will keep your listener engaged, waiting for the next piece of your story line to unfold, or eagerly following your train of thought? Of course this is a huge topic, but we can touch on a few important points in this email that will give you something constructive to think about when you’re getting ready to do a Facebook Live, launch a new webinar, or give a talk “at the front of the room” or in your next online class or conference.
Before we jump in, I’d like to define what I mean by Script. Sometimes it will, literally, be a written, word-for-word facsimile of what you plan to say. On other occasions it will be an outline of the major points you plan to cover. Sometimes it will be more like what movie makers call a ‘story board,’ where you intersperse visuals with planned points (some people use Power Points or Keynotes in this way). Scripts can come in many forms, and you need to decide which is best for you for each occasion.
Last year I gave a presentation at the monthly meeting of a professional women’s organization.
I had written a word-for-word script, which I whittled down to a point-by-point list, and I had a power point to help me stay on track and illustrate the narrative. Because I was speaking on a topic that I wasn’t intimately familiar with, I felt I had to start first with the word-for-word script. The trouble with doing this is that I fell in love with so much of what I’d written that then I felt I had to memorize exact phrases. This requires a LOT of rehearsal time! After several rehearsals I realized I needed the point-by-point list (which is what I generally use when I’m speaking on topics I know very well) and that really was what got me through the presentation.
I share this particular version of my process not to say that this is what you should do, but to say – each person needs to find their own script-building process and it may need to be tailored to the specific situation. Sometimes you need something you can put together very quickly, but that doesn’t mean you throw it together without giving real thought to the points we’re talking about here.
USE PROVOCATIVE QUESTIONS TO GET STARTED
Let’s return to several of the recommended questions I suggested you ask yourself earlier while you were setting your intentions* (see email June 11, which was Part 2 in this multi-part series*). These three questions have everything to do with deciding what you will say when the time comes:
- What is it that I’m trying to accomplish through this appearance/presentation?
- Who am I trying to reach, help, inspire, inform, persuade?
- Who will benefit if I do my best and how will they benefit?
This is a different point of emphasis, a different path into the script-planning process than “How can I make the most money?” or “How can I most effectively promote myself or my ideas?”
I’m not trying to suggest in any way that making money and promoting yourself aren’t worthy aims – of course they are! However, if you go at that directly, like a straight arrow, you’ll probably fail to create a dazzling presentation. Rather, if you set your sails on “Who am I trying to help; how will they benefit from my presentation?” you will have a much better time and your listeners will also. Somewhat ironically, you’ll have a better chance of making money and promoting yourself effectively by taking this path rather than with a more blatant self-promotion approach.
Here are several of the guiding principles to take into account in preparing your script:
- Consider your listener/observer/attendee/audience member first.
- Determine the level of formality that’s needed.
- Allow your authentic voice to come through.
- Blend the spoken with the visual and other modalities when possible.
- Continue to be guided by what you’re trying to accomplish and the ultimate outcome you’re aiming for.
CONSIDER YOUR LISTENER/OBSERVER/ATTENDEE/AUDIENCE MEMBER FIRST.
Yes, you have content you’re trying to get across and that’s obviously the major determinant of your script. However, if you only think about your content, you may inadvertently come across as dry, hard to follow, or disinterested in your listener. Put yourself in their place! Why are they attending your talk/webinar/class/podcast? What’s on their mind? What might have led them here? What do you think THEY are hoping for from this experience that you’re creating?
After all, someone has shown up to listen to you. They set aside some time to do so. Surely they have a hope that you’ll provide something for them that’s useful. What do you think it is that they need or desire? Is it purely information? Are they hoping for inspiration? Do they want to laugh? Do they want something step-by-step or are they looking for an overview? Will they benefit most if you go into great depth on a single topic or provide an introduction with ideas on where they go for further information? Will they need a break (if you’re planning a long presentation)?
BLEND THE SPOKEN WITH THE VISUAL AND OTHER MODALITIES WHEN POSSIBLE
Over 30 years ago an educator named Howard Gardner wrote a book that changed the thinking of thousands of educators and helped reshape some of the education practices in America. His book postulated a theory of multiple intelligences; he identified eight distinct intelligences. According to the American Institute for Learning and Human Development:
So, what this means for you as you prepare your script is that the more you can incorporate pictures, numbers, music, self-reflection, physical experiences, social experiences or experiences of the natural world into your presentation the wider range of people you will be able to accommodate in terms of their learning style.
Very few of us will be able to address every kind of intelligence in every presentation, but this brings us back to the question “Who is my audience?” You can’t possibly know the learning style of everyone in your potential audience, but you can make a few intelligent guesses.
If you attract a lot of creative people or graphic designers, pictures will be a must. If your audience is likely to be dancers, yoga teachers, bodyworkers, etc., you surely can’t rely on a purely linguistic presentation – you better get them up and moving or doing something with their hands at the very least – in other words, doing rather than just listening! If you’re presenting to therapists, coaches, ministers, intuitives, or educators, these are people people! You could include something social or interactive in your presentation if the medium allows. On the other hand, if you’re presenting to engineers or science geeks, asking them to share with a partner (social experience) to augment their learning may not be the best idea, and you better have some numbers in your presentation! (I don’t mean to stereotype here; just trying to give you some examples to think about.)
You get the idea.
DETERMINE THE LEVEL OF FORMALITY THAT’S NEEDED
If you’re presenting a paper at an academic conference, it’s going to be different from a Facebook Live where you’re sharing the benefits of essential oils with prospective customers. One demands a more formal kind of presentation and language while the other should probably be more interactive and conversational in tone.
What kind of setting will you be in? How will that dictate the level of formality that’s expected and which will work best?
ALLOW YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE TO COME THROUGH
Regardless of the level of formality that’s expected, from the most formal to the least, it’s important that you allow yourself to shine through the information.
Assuming you’re in business, you probably have some kind of hopes that either your audience members will buy your book, sign up for your mailing list, invite you back for further teaching, ask you to join their team, or something else. They have to get to know YOU, to get a feeling for you, during your presentation, even if you’re just talking about the latest research project with fruit flies!
Being authentic is not something I know how to teach; it’s something I can encourage. You are the only one who can discover your own authenticity – although often a coach can give you feedback that will be helpful.
CONTINUE TO BE GUIDED BY WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH AND THE ULTIMATE OUTCOME YOU’RE AIMING FOR
As you’re working through your script, repeatedly remind yourself of your Vision for this event (* which we talked about at some length in Part One of this series).
FINALLY, here are just a few of the many decisions you’ll be making as you build a script that people will really listen to, and potentially act on:
- Will you be using insider terms that need definition?
- If your material is dense, how can you intersperse it with pauses or visual breaks to allow people to think through what you’re saying?
- In what order should you present your major points so everything makes the most sense to your listener? Are there elements of your talk that require repetition?
- Will you be summarizing at one or more points in your talk?
- Will you be interspersing facts with anecdotes, stories, jokes, or first-hand accounts?
- Should you start with an icebreaker or something to make everyone laugh?
- Will your venue or online platform allow for some kind of interaction between participants?
- Will your talk include a call to action? If so, where does it belong in your script?
- Will there be a Q and A at some point?
- Would your talk benefit from the use of handouts or a follow-up message of some kind?
Your can find Parts 1 and 2 in the Prosperity Blog; parts 4 and 5 to follow.