Beginning with the End in Mind

wombie_mazeHave you ever tried a maze puzzle where you have to find a clear path through a series of dead ends? They’re usually much easier to solve if you start at the end and work backwards.  The same is true in public speaking.

Beginning with the end in mind means knowing exactly what your conclusion, your challenge, your ‘big idea’, or your ‘take home message’, should be and then developing it.  So, stories, steps, keys, emotions and facts don’t just serve a topic. They build a case which should be illustrated with unmistakable applications. The goal is transformation, not information or enjoyment, even though these are also important.

The listener has a role, of course, and can choose to shut out or to avoid thinking through their own specific response to what they have heard. However, many speakers can sound as if they are meandering through a maze themselves, rather than navigating a clear path. This doesn’t make the job of the hearer very easy!

Finally, given that the speaker is trying to help their hearers through a maze, in a sense, it is important that they don’t do so in a condescending manner.  The tone that communicates ‘we’, rather than ‘you’, is generally much easier to listen to and gives confidence that the journey people already want to go on (because they’ve chosen to sit and listen to you) is a shared one.

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