Communication Congruence – How to Organize Your Ideas to Communicate Effectively


I’ve been spending much of my time analyzing and studying some of the most impressive and impactful presentations that I’ve seen for awhile, trying to identify a generic structure or pattern that most effective presenters use.

Now, having dedicated a good deal of my time studying these some these speakers and cross-referencing them with others, I’m proud to announce that I’ve finally come up with a simple 3 step system that ANYONE can use to plan and organize their presentations!

Interested to know how you can add impact and become an impressive speaker? Then read on for the three simple steps to achieving congruent communication!

Step 1 – Knowing Your Audience

It is ALWAYS Crucial to know who you’re speaking to. What are your audience’s needs/wants? What do they want to know? What are they interested to find out? What concerns do they have? What do they want to hear?

Knowing what your audience want and care about is crucial for you to deliver value by addressing their concerns. It’s like a target board for you to aim at. Not only will you know what you’ll have to say in your speech, but when done well you will be commanding their undivided attention for the rest of the session!

The following are some questions you may wish to consider when conducting Audience Analysis:

1. Who are my Audience – What do they do? How old are they? What are they afraid of? What are they concerned about? What are the general characteristics of the group – ie women, men, husbands, wives, age group

2. What roles do they play – Are they husbands/wives, bosses/entrepreneurs/employees?

3. Are there any cultural discrepencies that I should take note off?

Step 2 – Knowing What You Want

Having a target is the first – Knowing where to aim on the target is the second. You don’t throw dart anywhere on the dart board, you want to hit a specific spot. Same goes when you’re playing pool/billiards. You must hit a specific part of the ball!

In the similar fashion, it is always important to know what exactly do you wish to achieve by the end of the presentation. Are you aiming to inform or educate? Sell a product or persuade? Motivate or Inspire?

Knowing what you want to achieve by the end of the presentation is always the key to planning and organizing presentation. After all, you must first know where you want to head to before you start your car and hit the roads!

Therefore, be as specific as possible. Setting the goals will help you determine the strategy to employ in your presentation. We will discuss that in the next point.

Step 3 – Planning the Presentation Proper

Now that you know what you want, it is time to direct your attention to getting it.

Most of us know the basic structure of a presentation. It is the Introduction, the Body and Conclusion. That’s simply enough isn’t it?

Yet, which one do we normally begin with? Perhaps, a better question would be which one should we begin with?

Most people usually begin with planning the introduction, or body. This is natural, considering that the Introduction is what we begin with when we present our speech, and the body containing much of the information/content to back us up.

However, having started with our goal in mind, it is crucial that we stay focused on our goal, and plan our presentation around it. In this instance, it is imperative that we start with the conclusion first.

If you’re trying to persuade or motivate, you might want to consider starting with a “call for action first”. Same goes if you’re trying to inspire. Or if you want to leave people on a high after delivering an after-dinner speech, then you might want to consider ending with an uplifting quote. There is no fixed way, however, it is important to stay anchored by working on the conclusion first.

Next part of planning comes your presentation body. Now that you’ve got your direction and focus, it’s time to mould your points in a manner that supports your conclusion. Ie, if you want people to buy 10 packets of Chrysanthemum Tea, you’re going to pretty much explain the rationale in the rationale body. Have your main points clearly stated and backed up and elaborated by supporting points. If you do it right, you would realise that your planning becomes much easier with a clear focus defined in your conclusion.

The last part of planning your speech proper involves (yes, you guessed it) the Introduction!

Start with an attention grabber that would capture that attention of your audience. Forget the Good Mornings, and Hellos. Going back to the “hellos” and “my name is…” are boring. They are elementary school stuff which another 500million people (who don’t visit my blog) are using right now. It’s boring and unimpressive.

Start Strong!

Begin with a statistic or a market report. Begin with a startling statement if you want. Tell how powerful your clients are, and how much more they can be if they choose to stick with you. Start with a famous quote or words by famous people. Stuff like that!

Establish power or leverage on the power of the rich and famous! Make your audience sit up and take note of you!

Of course, your introductory words must be relevant to what you have to say in your speech. In this instances, it’s always imperative to ask if your words are in line with what you have to say next, and if they’re able to reinforce the purpose of your message.

Try it!

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3 thoughts on “Communication Congruence – How to Organize Your Ideas to Communicate Effectively”

  1. Gary,

    Sorry for the long response, but you got me thinking about structuring presentations, so I thought I would give you my 2 cents and then some.

    In the beginning…it all seems like chaos. Your thoughts, your mind, what you want to get across, what you want to tell your audience.

    To create an effective presentation, you must create order out of this chaos.

    The ancient Babylonians portrayed chaos as the dragon-like Tamat, the Chaos Monster. To create our ordered universe, the cosmos, Tiamat had to be slain and her body cleft in two, one-half forming the heavens and the other the earth.

    To create a structure for your presentation, you will have to face your own “Chaos Monster” and, like an archer, master the organizational techniques that follow.

    The basic structure of a presentation is in three parts: Opening, Body, Conclusion.

    OPENING:

    Like the archer’s release of the arrow, the Opening of a presentation should begin in silence as the archer takes a breath and centers himself. As the archer pulls the bow string back, potential energy gathers, and then “twang!” the arrow accelerates in an explosion of energy, sound and speed. One moment — quiet; the next — a blur of action that demands attention.

    When you stand to open your presentation, center yourself like the archer. Allow a moment of silence as you visually connect with your audience. Focus on individual faces in the audience. Let the silence build tension and audience anticipation. Then shatter the calm with something that demands that people turn their attention away from their private thoughts and tune into what you are saying. Use an opening technique — “a hook” — and deliver it with dramatic voice, gesture and technique.

    BODY:

    The arrow represents the Body of your presentation, as the arrow traverses the distance to reach the mark. It covers a vast space and carries your point home.

    The Body of your presentation is the longest segment of the presentation. Do not let it be dull or be seen as “rambling.” Like an arrow, give the Body of your presentation a finely honed point — call it the central thesis or main takeaway sentence. Distill your entire presentation down to one sentence that encapsulates your point. Explain clearly to the audience how everything you say is related to your central thesis. Use repetition to make sure the audience gets your point. Use segues like “Why is this important?” to clue the audience in to what you are about to reveal. To give your presentation an arrow-sharp edge, write down each section of your presentation with this thought in mind: “What is my point and how does this idea support it?” If an idea doesn’t support your thesis, drop it. It belongs in another presentation.

    Is there a story or metaphor that conveys that central point? Use that story by referring back to it frequently for real-world examples that illustrate your point. Drive the point home with the use of imagery that reminds us of your metaphor.

    Now that you have your audience’s attention, how do you keep it?

    Lead your audience:

    -Add perceived structure by numbering your points.

    -Create clear transitions between your points, using questions, like “What else do we need to do to succeed?”

    -Use familiar metaphors, analogies and examples to explain new concepts.

    -Stimulate right-brain activity with visual aids: an image, prop or diagram. (Anything that is not a letter or number stimulates both hemispheres of the brain.)

    Keep your audience interested:

    -Vary vocal delivery by changing pitch, volume and intensity.

    -Use expressive and specific gestures. Move about the room.

    -Ask questions, both rhetorical and/or directly aimed at the audience.

    -Make eye contact.

    -Involve your audience, even if only with a show of hands or a quick survey.

    -Have fun; humor helps.

    -Increase credibility with carefully chosen moments of stillness and silence.

    CONCLUSION:

    The completion of your presentation is your target — a bull’s-eye — a great Conclusion. To avoid allowing your Conclusion to fall short of its mark, let the audience know when you are in the process of concluding by saying: “In conclusion…” or “What does it all mean?” for example.

    In addition to content, make sure your vocal inflection clearly signals the end of the presentation and not merely a pause. Write out your final sentence so your voice signals the concluding syllable (Usually the volume goes up in the last few words then down for the final syllable.). End with authority and certainty.

    After the Opening, the Conclusion has the second highest impact of your presentation. It leaves the audience with the final impression of you and your message. Human beings seek completion and resolution. Without a clear Conclusion audiences feel left hanging. Provide your audience a powerful sense of completion by crafting a strong Conclusion.

    Thanks Gary!

  2. Hi Terry,

    Wow! Thanks for sharing! That post probably contains an entire presentation on the structure of presentation! And I really like your use of the Babylonian analogy! It gives a new perspective into the way we think about parts of a presentation.

    I must say you’ve given everyone lots of great, relevant ideas to think about too! Thank you for being so generous with your notes!

    Do continue to share your thoughts online too! I’m sure everyone would be able to benefit through more sharing and cross-fertilisation of ideas!

    Thank you, and I hope to hear from you real soon, Terry!

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