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100 tips for presentation mastery: How scripting hones your language

Scripting leads to an effective prersentation
Scripting leads to an effective prersentation
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This article is a continuation of a series offering 100 tips for delivering a masterful presentation that will leave them cheering for more.

Past articles have introduced the topic, and discussed client expectations, persona and design.

This article examines scripting: tips for honing your language.

Tip 9 – Script your remarks.

Script writing is work. It also leads directly to presentation success. A script focuses content. It forces you to place thoughts in a logical sequence. It moulds and strengthens language. It develops key phrases and reveals potential difficulties. It identifies the materials you will need to use during the presentation. Lawyers script summations, witnesses script testimony, presidents script speeches, comedians script their jokes, and coaches script game plans. Trainers, teachers, and speakers should too.

Script writing is, unfortunately, not popular. Some presenters feel that they can “wing it” if the talking points are adequately stated on the PowerPoint. Others don’t have the time or inclination to spend the time necessary to script. Still others think that scripting prevents spontaneity.

The first two reasons for not scripting are mistaken notions. Presenters who overly rely on the PowerPoint slides, risk losing a meaningful connection with their audience. Presenters who don’t have the time or inclination to script, are at risk of demonstrating a lack of respect for their audiences.

The third argument for not scripting—scripting prevents spontaneity—ignores a key point about scripting. Once the script is practiced and absorbed by the presenter, the script should be put down and forgotten.

The goal of scripting is not to recite an address. Rather, the goal is to work through the content points, arrange and rearrange them into the best possible order, eliminate side points that undercut or distract form the key arguments being made, and find the best way to say what should be said using the shortest words wrapped in the most memorable phrase possible.

For an excellent example of scripting preparation, read this report about how current US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts when preparing for a presentation in front of the Supreme Court.

Most lawyers, witnesses, presidents, comedians, and coaches do not deliver a line-by-line script. They instead stop practicing their script once the script has been fully absorbed by the brain. It is at this step in the process where the presentation comes to life. When they no longer have to focus on the words, the notes, or the jokes, the performer can fully engage in the emotion of the moment.

Just as your car knows how to find its own way to work, a fully absorbed script finds its own language so you can instead focus on feeling the passion of your message and deliver connections with your audience.

Additionally, a script should evolve to align it with the audience, and with experience. Lawyers, coaches, and comedians all change their “game plans’ based on contact with their audience or competition. In the same way, professional presenters change their delivery based on reaction from the audience.

Scripting can be the enemy of an effective presentation, but only when the presenter thinks preparation stops with memorization. Scripting will deliver a knockout presentation when you use scripting properly.

You don’t script to speak. You script to plan. That planning is what separates an expert from a novice.

Tip 10 – Script to plan.

There may be related tips. Please feel free to offer your own.

In the next article of this series we will examine rehearsal as we offer 100 tips for delivering a masterful presentation that will leave them cheering for more.