Make Your Presentation a Success – Is Your Message Clear?

Casablanca Film Poster Is your message clear? Bill Gold [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Great films and good speeches have a message. Is your message clear?
What’s your message? Legendary Hollywood producer Sam Goldwyn was quoted as saying, “If I want to send a message, I’ll send a telegram.” Yet, great films and good speeches do have a message. Some recent movies consist mainly of CGI explosions and chase scenes. They’re exciting, but at the end, the audience is usually left with a big “So what?”

In a speech, the funniest or most exhilarating story will be pointless if you don’t tie it into your theme and provide a lesson for the listener. However, when action and thrills serve a compelling story and finish up with a heart-tugging or eye-opening conclusion – a message – we’re talking about unforgettable Oscar winners. Ingrid Bergman leaves Bogart and gets on the plane with Paul Henreid in Casablanca because honor comes before love in wartime. In Slumdog Millionaire, a poor orphan wins on a TV quiz show because a hard life can teach as much as a formal education. And Harrison Ford, Jimmy Stewart, Jim Carey, Julia Roberts, and Tom Hanks struggle against huge odds because it’s better to lose than never to try.

In your speech, is your message clear? Your message and your purpose may not be the same thing. For example, your purpose may be to increase profits, but your message is to inspire support for a new, more efficient way of running a department or for delivering great service. Your audience may or may not need to hear about your purpose, but they must hear and be clear about your message.

Are you trying to say too much with too many talking points? Or do you offer a message and then fail to support it? Try writing down your purpose in one sentence. Then find strong stories and a powerful conclusion to support it. Make sure you send your audience away with the answer to, “So what and why should I care?”

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More to Help to Make Your Message Clear

These just a few of the many free resources on to help you make sure your message comes through in your presentations and business communications:

Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with those who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.