Book Notes: Get to the Point!

Get to the Point!: Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter by Joel Schwartzberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is the point? Can your point fit into this phrase to form a complete sentence? “I believe that _______________.” For it to be compelling it needs to pass…

The “So What” Test roots out points that pass the “I Believe That” test but may be too shallow to serve as the foundation of a meaningful presentation. You can tell if your point is too shallow or a truism by asking two questions: “Is there a reasonable counterpoint?” and “Can I spend more than a minute defending this point?”

Ask “Why?” to avoid badjectives which make your point vague e.g. “is important”, why is it important? join the two to form a point.

Two ways to Enhance your point

  • Have a single, if there are two points pick your strongest.
  • What’s the greatest impact your idea will effect? If your idea can save lives, protect the peace, or make tons of money, why not use those magic words to sell your point?

Sell your point, don’t share it.You are here to sell your ideas.

A sharer will often say:
“Today, I want to talk a little about X.”
Compare that to the seller:
“Today, I’m going to explain why doing X will lead to Y.”

Making the leap from sharing to selling doesn’t require another college degree, just sharp awareness of your strongest point and its highest value proposition.

Sell with:
I propose . . .
I recommend . . .
I suggest . . .

Knowing what your audience wants from you. e.g. Information, Insight, News or updates, Inspiration, Appreciation, Empathy, Explanation or Comfort.

“power periods” end sentences with a . not (what sounds like) a ?

Present strongly. Remove anything which can get in the way and speak loudly. Pause to help points as you can speak quicker than the audience can understand. End with your point and give it some space.

Five enemies of your point:

  • and – keep your point short and succinct
  • Nonsense words – umm, ah, so
  • All apologies – never apologize or even say “excuse me.”
  • Speed – speak slowly, with greater volume, and with simpler language
  • ignore your inner saboteur –
    • Know your point. Anyone who doesn’t know his or her point should be nervous.
    • Know that the moment is not about you, or even your speech; it’s about your point. All you have to do is deliver it.
    • Practice out loud (not in your head or by mumbling). The key training is having your mouth and your brain collaborate on the conception and conveyance of a point. That can only happen if you’re actually using your mouth.

Tips for presenting

  • Don’t write a speech, it locks you in too tightly.
  • Don’t treat your point like a climax or spoiler
  • Notes should be just your main point and detail you might forget, nothing more
  • Practice out loud
  • Did you tell a story? one that proves, clarifies, or illustrates your point. Explain how the point is relevant to the story
  • Does each slide contribute to the point?
  • Am I prepared to explain the relevance of each slide?
  • Remove or shorten complete sentences
  • Five-and-five – a slide should have no more than five bulleted lines and no more than five words per line.
  • Are your slides readable from the back of the room?
  • Are my slides supporting me or am I supporting my slides? Good presenters don’t let their tech toys make points on their behalf. They stand in the centre of the speaking area, fully in the light, conveying points supported by the slides behind them.

Tips for EMail

  • Put your point in the Subject line
  • Use more bullet points
  • Paragraphs should be no more than three sentence
  • Are the facts correct?
  • Is it grammatically correct?
  • Did I end with a suggestion, a recommendation, or a proposal?

Executive comms

  • Don’t bury your point
  • Keep it tight
  • Did I end with aspiration?
  • Did I remember to say thanks?

Tips for Meetings

  • Know your point.
  • Prepare in advance.
  • Be loud.
  • Use pauses for precision.
  • Say “I recommend” and “I propose.”
  • Mind your word economy.
  • Remember your #1 job: deliver your point.

Tips for Performance reviews

  • Did I start with a general overview?
  • Did I clearly communicate my employee’s challenges and offer examples?
  • Did I offer recommendations for improvement?

Tips for Conference Panel

  • Did I prepare my points in advance?
  • Do I know who I answer to?
  • Do I know everyone’s names?
  • Do I have supporting data in my head?
  • Am I ready to jump in?
  • Did I bring a strategic story?
  • Am I conveying my points or rebutting theirs? As I mentioned earlier, if the conversation takes a wrong turn, don’t follow it down that rabbit hole.
  • Am I showing the audience respect?
  • Am I speaking in complete sentences?
  • Am I responding or reacting? A response is a point formulated to fill a knowledge gap with targeted insight: “Here’s what I believe.” A reaction is a more spontaneous reply, sometimes emotionally driven and defensive: “No, that’s not true at all!”
  • Am I aware of myself? Remember, the audience is always watching you (and cameras may be as well), so for as long as you’re in that seat, look interested, nod at others’ good points, and don’t do anything that would embarrass your mother if she were in the audience. Speak up. Sit up straight. Don’t talk when others are talking. Don’t touch your face.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

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