Wednesday, December 2, 2009

week 14, part 2: Expanding your message

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As she's rethinking her message, Stephanie wondered how to take that basic set of three key points and expand them into longer-format talks. Since a message is an outline, at heart, you can approach the challenge one of two ways:

  • Starting from scratch: If you don't yet know your three key points, and are starting from scratch, write down every fact, quotation, data point, story or example you can think of about your topic--then group them into categories. You may want to eliminate some points if they don't fit well with the others, or save them for another talk. Once you've settled on your points and can see ways to make three groups out of them, develop your message around those three categories. The detailed points are what you'll use to expand the talk; the short statement of your message points is the shortest version of your talk.
  • If you already have a message, as Stephanie does, your brainstorming can be more focused. Her message is about what it takes to face your fear of public speaking: Focus, frequency and faith in yourself. For each of those categories, she'll need to research facts, anecdotes, examples (from her own life or from popular culture) and persuasive points that will underscore and put her message across in a convincing way.

Let's take that example further: If Stephanie wanted to expand on her point about focus, she might look up some quotes about focus or single-minded pursuit of a goal or persistance--all similar qualities (follow the links to see examples). A quotation that underscores her point, plus a story or example from her own life or the life of an inspirational figure who overcame great odds or a speaking challenge, taken together, would help her expand on the points she's already included in her message -- not replace them, but in addition to them.

Other ways to expand on your points include:

  • Posing common questions your audience may have on that point
  • Describing common objections or concerns that are related
  • Asking the audience whether they've encountered something similar
  • Talking about a time when you failed to take this step and what happened
  • Talking about what happened when you followed this advice and succeeded
  • Describing your own emotions, concerns and perspective

It's also important, when expanding your message, to be sure you can stay within a specific time limit. If you're just starting out, as Stephanie is, don't expand too far. Start with a short talk of 10 to 15 minutes, get comfortable, then expand further as you need to.

Related posts: Stephanie's week 12 message

Making a message: Using analogy

Glue to make your message stick

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