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Lesson 2. Define the Central Message > Make Your Point—Fast - Pg. 9

Define the Central Message 9 Begin with the Central Message A human resources manager once told me that he liked to "load the cannon." I asked him what he meant by that phrase. The manager explained that he preferred to start by giving his audience a lot of background information and supporting evidence. Once they had digested it, he would make his main point. He called that loading the cannon with data, then firing it--delivering his message. Engineers and other technical people often present information the same way, and the approach may work well in technical and academic settings, but not in the business world. By the time you "fire the cannon," the audience may already be tuned out and not hear the main point of your pre- sentation. Suppose you're taking a trip. You pack your bags and load them in the car. Your family jumps in the car with you and you head off down the street. But you don't tell them where you're going. "It's a surprise," you laugh. "You'll find out when we arrive." Most families would want you to stop the car right there. They'd demand to know their destination. It's the same when you give a presentation. Your audience wants to know the point of the whole thing, where you're taking them. Otherwise they won't be able to follow your talk, nor will they want to. Tip Get to the point. Giving a presentation is not the same as writing a mystery story. Listeners don't want you to save the most important information until the end. They want you to get to the point sooner rather than later. All the preliminary evidence or supporting material won't make any sense unless they know why you're delivering it. Tell them your central message, and then you can tell them everything else.