Table of Contents, Engage and Inspire Your Audience Resources Page Previous Section, Engage and Inspire Your Audience Next Section, Engage and Inspire Your Audience

Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

A Central Theme Will Keep You—and Your Audience—on the Right Track

One way to gain control and to keep your audience's attention going throughout your presentation is to develop a central theme that links your ideas together. Many presentations start off with a reasonable attention level, which drops off sharply as the presentation continues. The reason being that presentations tend to be like reading a list: "Good morning, everyone. Here I am today to talk about the three best ways to save on auto insurance. Here's suggestion number one. Now here's suggestion number two. And now here's suggestion number three." The audience knows from the outset that there's nothing to look forward to but a boring list of ideas.

On the other hand, look carefully at this chapter, for instance. The "central theme" is based on "traveling." There are several references to moving and driving, and to maps, signs, paths, and especially bridges. Every time we use one of these references to transition from one thought to another, we are helping you—the reader—follow along. This is a "left brain, right brain" trick you can use too. The left side of the brain controls logic and reasoning. The right brain is more creative. Giving an audience a simple list of drugs is a left-brain activity. You can spice up that list, and make it easier to remember, by adding in bits of right-brain imagery (for example, maps, cars, and bridges) to help the audience focus on and remember your points.

Your theme doesn't have to be complicated. And if you can tie it into an audience's particular interest, all the better. I work with many pharmaceutical representatives who have to make presentations to doctors. It's well known that many doctors play golf. So they might open their presentation by asking, "How is prescribing the right drug like using the right club to hit a hole in one?" Then they would say, "You wouldn't use a putter to try for a hole in one. Choosing the right club can make all the difference in your game. That's why we want to help you make the best prescribing decision, to make sure you're choosing the best drug for your patients." They would then sprinkle the presentation with golf-related images to keep the doctor's attention throughout. (Just don't overdo it; you don't want to come off too cutesy.)


Table of Contents, Engage and Inspire Your Audience Resources Page Previous Section, Engage and Inspire Your Audience Next Section, Engage and Inspire Your Audience