When putting together content for a presentation or speech, most communicators start at the beginning.
Don't do that.
Sure, it makes sense to write your introduction first because it's the first thing you're going to say, but you have to fight that instinct.
Instead, write out your content's body (that big giant middle part that's full of data, stories, proof points, process steps, quotes, etc.) first. Then, write out your conclusion (your final word, your clear call to specific action).
Only when you've finished the body and the conclusion will it be time to write your introduction.
It's been said"
"How do I know what I'm writing until I've written it?"
When you start with the body of your content, you get a truer sense of what you really want to say. You get a sense of the way you're going to persuade your listeners, what matters most to them, and how to best direct them.
Only when that work is done will you know what your presentation or speech is really all about.
Only then can you know how to create an introduction that grabs your audience's attention, lets them know where you're headed, and teases your most impactful point.
Your introduction should serve as the lens through which your audience views the body of your content.
When you write the introduction before truly doing the body work, you're in danger of writing an introduction that doesn't offer up the right lens.
So... instead of starting at the start, map out your body (and then write your conclusion if you're up for it). Then, in light of that content, consider what's going to matter most to your audience. (Is it their current goal? Is it a key data point? A story that proves what you're saying? Is it a description of the right strategy? A knock on the current, faulty strategy?)
Set yourself up for success by using your introduction to point toward that key point, intrigue them, tell them what's to come, and get them excited about what you have to say.
Fighting your natural tendency to start with your introduction won't be easy at first, but as you do it more and more—and realize how much better your introductions become when you write them last—you'll find yourself wanting to write your beginning last.
Learn all you need to know about organizing your content for an upcoming presentation and speech with our 12 Essential Content Questions online course...
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