Thursday, October 06, 2005

Presentation Skills Seven Ways to Organize Your Topic

By Karen Susman – speaker/author coach

You’ve heard that you should “Tell ‘em what you are going to tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em what you told ‘em.” There are a few problems with that rule. First of all, it assumes your audience members are idiots. It assumes you’re an idiot. And, if forgets to tell you how to organize those remarks when you tell them what you are going to tell them. Yes, you should introduce your topic. Yes you should sum up your remarks and conclude. But, what about that middle section where you deliver on the promise of your introduction and set the stage for your conclusion and call to action? Here are seven different ways to organize your thoughts.

1. History: Let’s say you are speaking about the economy. You want your audience to see the trends and cycles. You could give an historical timeline of the economy over the last 5, 10 or 100 years.
2. Problem/Solution: For the economy program, outline the problems and challenges as you see them. Then offer three to five solutions or strategies for overcoming the problems you stated.
3. General to Specific: If you are talking about cars, talk about cars in general and then talk about Volkswagens. Or talk about Volkswagens and then talk about the VW Bug.
4. Specific to General: Reverse #3.
5. Instructions: How to do something in simple, step-by-step fashion.
6. Geographical: What different regions in the country are doing. Global differences.
7. Comparative: Compare ideas, solutions, areas, products, etc.

Choose the method of organization based on your topic, audience, goals and format. Can’t decide which way to organize? Write down your topic and a sentence describing how your content would flow for each of the seven organization modes. See what works. Whoops! I guess I told you what I was going to tell you. I told you. I told you what I told you.


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