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Scripting with a Timeline Layout

Q1:Is there any quick, easy, one-two-three method for scripting a presentation?
Actually there is. It's called a timeline layout. There are three segments in the timeline, based on chronology, following the pattern of past, present, and future. Some people use the metaphor of “where we were, where we are, where we're going.” You can probably use this process with almost any type of script or situation and it's certainly easier to remember your key points when you use the timeline approach.

For example, let's say you have to give a short talk on the progress of a particular project. First, you determine the outcome of the talk (the call to action). You decide you want the group to continue to support the project. Nothing major, just “continued support.” People give continued support to things that have a track record of satisfaction. So the objective is to demonstrate satisfactory results. You have an objective and a call to action. Now you need a script. Of the noted types found in this chapter, you select “problem-solution.”

Using the timeline layout, you apply the problem-solution scenario to the past, present, and future using no more than three issues for each segment of the timeline. Thus, for the past you mention three specific problems which led to the need for the project, and you identify at least one solution that came about to address one of those problems. This begins your journey to providing satisfactory results (remember the objective?).

Next, you focus on current issues (present) and how several initiatives are being used to address the remaining problems from the past. In addition, you show how the solution to some of the problems has opened new concerns, which might develop into problems if left unchecked. For example, you might show that the implementation of a new procedure while streamlining communication has created the need for advanced technology and additional expertise. This is your first indication to the group that you will require their continued support for the increasing scope of the project (remember the call to action?).

Then, you discuss the strategy or plan for the future and the results you expect based on the already demonstrated and satisfactory past performance. You show how the investment in already-proven, additional resources will continually improve the specific business function that the project was originally intended to address. You close by showing that, without continued support for the project, the original problems that created the need for the project will return but the effect of those problems will be magnified based on the current economic and competitive conditions.

Your ability to remember and discuss information is based on your understanding as to where that data fits along the timeline of past, present, and future. Just make sure that everything you present matches the objective (satisfactory results) and leads to the call to action (continued support).

Being Consistent, Yet Unique

Q1:How can I maintain consistency in all my messages yet keep them unique?
The easiest way to create and deliver messages with consistency and impact is to find yourself in the message. The closer the message is to your heart and your belief system, the easier it is to be consistent.

But don't confuse consistency with conformity. When you try to conform to the message, you make sacrifices and trade-offs in order to fit yourself into the message. This cannot be done with any sincerity because your heart and soul will not allow it. When you are consistent with the message, you make the message conform to you and the message is expressed naturally, through your actions.

If I coached you to higher levels of this presentation skill, I would force you to find where in a given message you have the strongest tie. In other words, what part of the message is closest to your heart? Once you match a core principle (belief) of your life to a particular element in the message, a link is established between you and the message. That is the starting point for developing a consistency. You might have to modify the message by slanting it to your way of thinking. But that's the beauty of shaping a message to your personal and natural style.

For every message thereafter, you will use the same process to find the elements in the message that match at least one of your core principles. Messages will change, but you must remain true to your own beliefs. This is why I am able to work with so many different people from such diverse groups. The consistency in the coaching is to simply create the link between the message and the messenger.

And don't think you can't match the message. A message and a corporate philosophy are created by individuals who are part of the same race—the human race. For all the diversity that exists, we still share basic instincts and characteristics simply by the fact that we are human. So, start from the premise that you are able to find elements of a message or a philosophy that fit you. The consistency in your own heart must be the watermark for all ideas and concepts you expect to support.



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