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Know what you want to achieve

Have a look again at Chapter 8 in this book. Every time you go on stage or appear in front of the media, work your way through this planning process:

· What do you want to achieve?

· Who do you need to influence?

· What do you want them to do and why should they?

· What are they doing now and how do they think, feel and act at present?

· What stories can you tell to illustrate your key points?

· How does your point of view influence what you’re going to say, and how can you work your beliefs and passions into your messages?

Very often, delegates in the conference hall can all have a common interest – and it might be that they want to know more about your expertise and experience so that they can learn from what you have to say. However, you might be in a much broader-based audience, with a variety of needs, and you will need to think through what different views you may have to address.

You may be going in front of a radio interviewer, and really want to deliver a message to government, your customers or your suppliers. Remember that the journalist is not your audience, it is the people that he or she represents that you are really talking to. Plan your messages for them, and don’t allow yourself to be dictated to by the journalist. Make sure your stories resonate with the audience you have in mind and will be appropriate to them.

Own your material

If you are writing your own speech or media soundbites, then you have already achieved this objective. But, if the material is being prepared for you, you must find ways to make it your own.

Have you been given a speech to read? Rewrite the opening and the close, or rehearse them so much that you can give them without having to read the script. Always read what you’ve written aloud. The written word – perfect on the page – can sound wrong or be uncomfortable to read aloud, and you won’t know it until you’ve tried it. By rehearsing, you work out beforehand where you’re likely to trip up.

Find and tell personal stories to illustrate your points, ones you’ve directly experienced or are confident telling.

People will detect when you are inauthentic or are simply parroting a party line, so make sure you are comfortable with what you are saying.

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