We all know about the importance of key messages. It’s one of the first questions we ask ourselves when we agree to a “public speaking” engagement. Or it should be.
Quite often the question comes out as:
What shall I speak about?
That’s great. To sort out a theme. To know if we will be talking about dogs, or moon landings, or ballet, or chandeliers…But it doesn’t answer the key message question. For that we may need to ask something like:
What’s my point?
Because any one of these subjects might be artfully used to illustrate a particular point. An angle. An argument. A belief. A passion.
The theme is not the point. The theme is the conduit for the point.
The point is the point.
Let’s take Chandeliers
I was coaching a very able presenter who asked me to give her a hand on the last presentation she gave before she left her job and moved on. She wanted it to be memorable. The subject matter was data input.
Not the sexiest of subjects.
However I was intrigued when she told me her idea albeit in embryo.
She had a picture of a chandelier that she had taken when she was having tea at the Ritz one day. (As you do….)
As she sat sipping her Earl Grey she started thinking about how dusty that chandelier must get and how on earth they went about cleaning it…
And then she remembered a very famous and very funny clip from the TV show, “Only Fools and Horses” where they tried to clean a chandelier and it didn’t end well.
The genius idea
The genius idea came when she linked these thoughts to the importance of data input.
If they had all had the right information at their disposal at the right time and the right tools, then the chandelier would have survived and been clean and sparkling – like the one at the Ritz.
Her point was that it is crucial to have the right data at the right time. Out of date or obsolete data can have disastrous consequences.
So she started her talk about the importance of data input with a picture of the chandelier at the Ritz.
Throughout her talk she piqued our curiosity by bringing us back to her metaphor and showed pictures of the necessary tools that needed to be employed to clean the chandelier.
At the end she showed the Only Fools and Horses clip as a dire warning of the consequences of lack of knowledge and tools.
Her point was clear
Be accurate and up to date with data input or else face the consequences.
Her theme was clear
It was chandeliers.
So the thing is…
The chandelier metaphor made the point of her talk a lot more engaging and a lot more memorable.
The two questions
Next time you’re asked to give a talk it’s worth asking yourself these two helpful questions:
What’s the point?
What’s my theme?
But you might have to bring your own chandelier!
Take a look at what happened to Del, Rodney and Grandad in the Only Fools and Horses clip….