―a connecting theme (or “spine”) that ties together the narrative elements of a story, from beginning to end.
Great plays, movies, and novels all have it…
… but it is not just applicable to these pieces.
Where else can we use a throughline for?
In PUBLIC SPEAKING.
Think of a throughline as a strong cord or rope where you’ll attach the elements of your presentation.
Don’t assume, though, that this means you (as a speaker) have to cover only one topic in your presentation.
That’s not what a throughline is for!
Having a throughline means that even when you get distracted at some point or discuss more than one topic and example your presentation time allows, all the pieces still connect to build a “wonderful” idea in your audience’s minds.
According to Chris Anderson in the book titled, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” when the audience knows where you’re headed, it’s much easier for them to follow you on your journey.
Come to think of it…
If you’re a tourist in a foreign country and someone randomly asks you to go with him or her without telling you the destination, would you immediately say yes?
You wouldn’t, right?
First of all, you’re in an unfamiliar place.
Second, you don’t really know who that person is and what his or her intentions are.
Third, you don’t know where you’re going!
Public speaking can also be like that, metaphorically speaking.
If you want your audience to join you on your journey, you have to make it clear what your presentation is all about. Then, let your throughline “trace the path that your presentation takes.”
In other words, your throughline’s job is to ensure that there are no impossible leaps in your presentation.
The result of this?
You and your audience will arrive at a satisfying destination, TOGETHER.
So… how do you create a good throughline for your presentation?
One of the first things you should do is to find out as much as you can about your audience.
You can do that by answering questions such as:
- – Who are they?
- – What are their expectations from your presentation?
- – What are the topics that they are interested in?
Why is answering these questions important?
It’s because you can only deliver an effective presentation to an audience that is ready to receive your message.
For example, you can’t go on talking about business and economics when your audience consists mostly of art majors.
That would only result in:
- – A waste of time on you and your audience’s part
- – A failure to see a desirable action from your audience
- – Inability to communicate your message effectively
One of the obstacles a speaker might have in building a throughline is this:
“I have far too much to say but not enough time to say it!”
When you start to experience this dilemma as you prepare for your presentation, remember: DON’T condense your presentation to include all the things you want to say.
When you rush through multiple topics in your presentation, there’s a drastic consequence―they don’t land with any force.
Just remember this equation too: Overstuffed equals underexplained.
In order to present a captivating message to your audience, you have to slash the range of topics you want to cover to a single, connected thread―a throughline that you can properly develop.
Yes, doing so means you’ll have to cover less topics in your presentation, but it will have a greater impact on your audience.
“Kill your darlings.”
This was English economist Nic Marks’ advice to novice writers. He said:
“I had to be prepared to NOT talk about some things I absolutely loved and would have liked to squeeze in, but they were not part of the main narrative. That was tough, but essential.”
In order to effectively “kill your darlings,” you have to identify your presentation’s throughline to help you filter out what you don’t have to say in front of your audience.
Properly unpack your message in the time you have available. Then, build a structure so that every element of your presentation is linked to your central idea.
Don’t take throughlines lightly. Instead, see it as a vital part in building and preparing for your presentation.
By using it properly, you’ll be able to get your message across more effectively.
“You will only cover as much ground as you can dive into in sufficient depth to be compelling.” – Chris Anderson
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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