What is the Core Message at the center of your speech?

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I was so excited to get to listen to this productivity expert share her best ideas at a conference I was attending. The title and summary of her talk promised EXACTLY what I wanted: to finally get a handle on my way-too-long to-do list and end my day feeling satisfied that I had gotten a whole lot of important stuff done. 

She walked onto stage vibrantly and quickly connected with us, clearly at home in front of an audience. This was looking promising!

Only, as her talk ventured on I became more and more exhausted. I felt like a pinball in a pinball machine. One exciting idea, then another, and another and another… pretty soon, I was sure I would be too busy practicing new organizational strategies to get to any of the items on my list.

Here’s the thing: she meant well. I knew that. She wanted to give me everything she could to help me feel more productive. However, instead I felt what we call “fire-hosed” by this high-speed, disorganized onslaught of “great tips.”

The fact is, our audience can only take in and use so much information.

Our job is know our audience well enough to craft a presentation that clearly and effectively helps make their lives better in a way that matters to them.

So you need to know what your audience desires and connect that with your own expertise, as a starting place.

Note, though, that a quick check on what your audience needs and desires just gives you a topic, which is not the same thing as a core message. This is what went awry with our well-intentioned productivity expert. She was speaking on the overall topic of “overwhelm” or “too much to do.” That’s too big and unruly to cover effectively in one presentation.

So what do you do when you have so much good stuff to share and you don't want to “fire-hose” your audience?

You craft a single core message for your presentation and then build your talk around that simple and clear message.

Here is how you narrow down to a single core message for your presentation:

  1. Do a thorough audience analysis so you’re intimately connected with what this audience needs and desires.
  2. Look for the areas within those audience needs and desires that sync up with your own rooftop message. How can you genuinely and significantly help this audience through your expertise?
  3. Craft a promise – a core message – that solves a problem they care about and build your presentation around that promise.

For example, let's say you are a nutritionist. You know that eating healthy food can dramatically change lives. When you do a deep audience analysis on the audience for your upcoming talk at a conference full of working parents, you realize that while the attendees do want their kids to eat healthy, the most pressing issues they have are about their lack of time and energy. They are exhausted at the end of their day and need easy meals to feed their kids that they know their kids will actually eat.

If your core message (and presentation title, which is often built from the core message) is, “Eating healthy is essential for raising kids who flourish,” there’s a reasonable chance they would avoid your talk. Fact is, they already know they should be feeding their kids healthy food and are likely feeling guilty for not providing the healthy meals they know they should. 

So, meet them right where they are.

Give them a promise they will get excited about.

How about: “It really is possible to nourish your kids with healthy meals that are easy and quick to make.” (As mama to three kids myself, I can tell you that I would be very excited about this talk.) So your talk title from this core message might be:  Nourish your kids with healthy super-easy meals they will love to eat!

Now, everything you cover in your presentation comes back to this promise. Your main points of your presentation all expand on this promise and give very real, actionable information – and not too much of it – to help these parents feed their kids health food in a super easy way.

This is how you provide a shockingly useful and inspiring talk for your audience.

It all begins with crystal clarity on the ONE core message that you know will light up their world and make their life better.

This kind of clarity is essential to high-impact speaking. If you’d like one-on-one support crafting your own high-impact presentation, this is the time. I have two one-on-one coaching spots available in March. Let’s chat.