If there were a contest to be the best at endless rambling, I would win every time. I can turn any conversation into a convoluted mess with no end in sight. All someone has to say is, "What's new with you?" and we're off to the races. I always have a lot to say, and it doesn't necessarily come in any reasonable order. I have a million and one stories, and any time I'm speaking with someone, there's an excellent chance that I'll be reminded of one of them. The retelling of an experience will ultimately trigger more, and my poor victim will have a hard time figuring out how we got there. Before you decide never to find yourself trapped in a conversation with me, know that I can reel myself in when I have to. When I put my presentations together, I organize my thoughts, experience, and research to flow and stay on point. Here are three ways to create an informative and engaging speech to keep you from straying from your main idea.
- Create your outline around one topic: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Your Introduction will let the audience know what they'll learn from you. It sets up an expectation that will pique their interest. The Body will include three points that support your presentation. (Most of us readily remember three points.) Your Conclusion will give your attendees a recap of your material and an opportunity for a call to action.
- Use Storytelling to leave a lasting impact. Hearing someone's challenges or experiences firsthand keeps us interested in knowing the outcome or results of their actions. We always want to see how a story ends, and we want to feel motivated and inspired by others.
- Utilize Eye Contact, Body Language, and Gestures. Standing like a statue or pacing back and forth while you're speaking will take away from your talk. Staring at the wall above everyone's head or looking at the floor will make you look unsure of what you're saying. Practice your speech in front of your friends. Get comfortable with looking at people and making eye contact. Seeing your audience will let you know if they're engaged and understanding what you're saying. When you're telling a story, put yourself into the event. Point to the little dog, or look over the fence, and your audience will visualize it with you. Use hand gestures to add dynamics to your talk. If you have three points, raise one finger, then two, and then three. Opening your hands or raising your arms allows people in.
The more you practice organizing your ideas, the easier it becomes. You'll transition to different points and topics more smoothly. Tell stories that support your viewpoint. Eye contact and using your body language will make you more engaging. Finally, preparation will help your confidence while you're speaking because you'll come across polished and precise.
I may still ramble and stray from the main point, but I will keep you entertained while I do it.