It’s sad to say but generally true, winning or losing in elections is not related to the candidates’ experience, resume or grasp of the issues. A win is due to a combination of how well they speak before groups, appear on camera and their fundraising power. The latter also depends on public speaking and networking capabilities.
I contend that everyone is in the same position as candidates in their professional and community roles. We are running for office even when we are not running for elected office. Aren’t you and I frequently trying to get people to do things we want or feel are important? While we’re not necessarily going after a vote in a booth, we are seeking approval, support or some other kind of action.
Most candidates and those now serving in their elected position rely on what are called “talking points” to carry on their public conversations, their speeches to audiences and their presentations to prospective donors. These talking points — usually thoroughly critiqued and reviewed by staff and close supporters — are what they say on any given topic, including potentially disruptive or negative questions.
The takeaway here is to think about your own reason for public speaking and to begin to identify what your talking points may be. What is important to you? What are you passionate about? Why? And why would anyone else care? What’s in it for them to listen to you?
Talking points serve two primary purposes. (1) They help clarify what is most critical that you be prepared to discuss. (2) They force you to identify worse-case scenarios that could arise from potentially negative questions or embarrassing revelations.
I’ll be expanding on these ideas with you in upcoming blogs and newsletters. For now, begin looking at yourself and your expertise as a set of talking points, as if you, too, were running for office. You want to be ready for whatever opportunities come your way, right? This exercise can definitely help!
* Excerpted from Public Speaking for the Genius by Anne B. Freedman, coming soon. Save 25% with your pre-publication order now! Just click here.
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