Part 6, Answer the “So What?” Question
There is a time when you will give a speech intended to inspire, challenge or stretch your audience and leave things kind of open-ended. You will let them draw their own conclusions and identify their own take-aways. But in general, you will always want to answer the “so what” question.
Good messages are like any other project. You need to begin with the outcome in mind. I have the personal bias that the ultimate goal of any message is to inspire or facilitate some kind of growth in the lives of those who hear it. So I ask; “What kind of growth I am trying to prompt and what would that growth look like?”
Once I decide that, I reflect on the practices that allowed me to grow in the way I am trying to inspire others. This is where connecting my own story to theirs is most crucial. Again, I may never mention my own story, but my experience will help me frame my challenge in a way that can best connect with my audience. It will for you too.
So the next time you are talking to a group about how to have a great attitude, give them an exercise that requires them to behave in a positive, helpful way toward others. If you are speaking about a technical skill, give them one challenge that will require they stretch themselves. You get the idea.
So for now, write down the thesis of your next talk. Now write down the goal you have in mind for your audience. Now write down the first step they can take toward accomplishing that goal. Finally, figure out an engaging way how to challenge them to take that step.
If I have done my job in this post, you now know what to do.