The 30-Second Speech

April 15, 2009 | | Comments Off on The 30-Second Speech

What happens when you have an extremely limited amount of time to get your point across? Business presentations or sales pitches do not afford you the luxury of taking a lot of time to set up. How do you develop a speech or presentation that gets right to the heart of the matter?

Bare-Bones Box Format

Imagine that your speech in terms of four separate categories, or boxes. Within each box, fill in the audience with what’s needed. The more time you have, the more you can say.

1. Problem – What is the missing skill set or knowledge set? Or, what is the present condition and why is it not working? Establish the purpose of your speech (or meeting). Something is wrong, and it needs to be right.

2. Proof – How do we know it’s a problem? How big is the problem? What sources say so? What numbers do you bring?

3. Solution – Okay, this problem is real, and it’s really big. How do we fix it? Will it actually work? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks and how do we get past them? Again, do you have any numbers and sources to back you up (precedent)?

4. Next Step – How do we get started? Urge us to action or open the floor to questions. Place the ball in our court.

Throw It in the Box Now, Sort Later

The trick to this speech is to spend as much time possible adding to each box (Placing). Provide all the background information on the problem. Develop as many arguments as you can. Defend potential counter-arguments. Add as many facts and figures and sources. Place all of this into the appropriate box.

For example, let’s say the problem is that the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. One look at the finance sheet will probably prove this, so spend more energy discussing how this happened. Trace back sales or expenditures to determine the root cause. Then, provide the solution; perhaps it will be something as simple as not buying office supplies or as serious as job cuts. How will that work? Will it work? Where’s the evidence? Did other companies use your proposed strategy? Where can we look it up? Will the solution create more problems?

Once you throw everything into each of the four boxes, you can begin the process of Prioritizing. Find the most important statement in each box. If you only get four sentences (one per box), which ones would they be? If you get two statments per box, which would they be? Continue along until you reach your time limit, and cut out the rest.

This method will allow you to develop speeches with a very specific time-frame in mind. More importantly, it will allow you to adjust your speech for the amount of time you have, which is extremely valuable and therefore limited in the business world.

Get to the point and stick to the point. Additional information can be made available upon request.

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