I love maps. I love figuring out travel routes and examining the terrain. I have lived in Massachusetts for 33 years, yet I still continue to pore over New England maps whenever I get on the road. I can’t relate to the “I have no sense of direction” people who look at me like I have two heads when I tell them to head east on Commonwealth Avenue. And, for those of us who live in Boston (the mecca for road design that makes no sense…and makes us secretly proud insiders), we know that there are many paths that lead to our destination. As it goes with public speaking.
My client had an important presentation for a thousand people. Naturally, he wanted to be clear and moving, succinct and spellbinding. He had an insightful, intelligent, heartfelt story to tell. We broke his presentation into three parts. (Remember, 3’s and their subsets are easy to remember). Each part had its own beginning, its path so to speak, that once set upon would be easy to follow and remember. We developed opening sentences to the sections that would place him squarely on the road. Easy, right?
Not so much. While we practiced he kept changing his opening lines, which led him deeply into the weeds. I finally used the map metaphor. Stop changing the route! Stay on the path we have created, it works and it will get you there. Stop thinking you can meander off into a side road, because inevitably you are going to get lost or take a much more circuitous route to get to your destination. You will get there, but you will lose your audience in the process. After a few stops and starts, he understood the power of seeing and staying the course.
Speakers need to map out presentations, to visualize and essentially memorize the route. All successful presenters do this. One of the jobs of a good coach is to help you map the best route for your presentation. So, think map metaphor when you design your next presentation.
Next Post: GPS: Where do you stand?