It seems to me that one of the worst criticisms you can hear about another person is that they’re spineless. Even reading the definition makes me uneasy: lacking resolution; weak and purposeless.
The same can be said about speeches and presentations. Those that meander all over hell’s half acre (definition: a long, frustrating trip or experience) are at best forgettable, and at worst insulting to the audience. Every memorable or engaging presentation must have a spine: structure, flow, and pacing that all add up to a sturdy backbone.
Developing the spine of your presentation has another important feature. It helps you stay in control. It’s the equivalent of driving with both hands on the wheel (as opposed to, say, driving with one hand and texting with the other).
Once you’ve taken the time to develop the key elements of your presentation, and you are confident that you have a strong beginning, a compelling middle, and a memorable conclusion, then it’s just a matter of getting up there and guiding your audience through each section in a seamless and cohesive manner – so seamless and cohesive that no one has a clue that your presentation was once just a bunch of individual vertebrae lacking any connective tissue.
Your efforts to prepare a structured presentation, and your ability to take command of center stage are like promises to your audience that you have something valuable to say, that you will say it in a way that meets their particular needs, and that you will not waste their time. Now that’s a bargain worth keeping.
Barbara is Head Coach at SWP and author of the upcoming book Commit to Confidence: 30 Strategies to Help Women Step Up and Stand Out. She can be reached at Google + at +Barbara Roche.