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What is the Big Idea of Your Presentation?

Presentations need one big idea or goalThe most difficult question that I ever pose to my clients or to any speaker is: “What’s the ONE thing you want your audience to remember after your speech?”

This question usually illicits one of two reactions – “What do you mean I can have only one goal?” or a blank stare.

It’s not meant to be an easy question. It forces you to get crystal clear on what you want to accomplish in your presentation. Audiences want a goal, they want focus, and they want clarity. If you know exactly where you are going, you can give your audience exactly what they want (what they really, really want).

What is the BIG IDEA Statement?

The BIG IDEA  is simply is what you want your audience to leave the presentation with. What is the one thing you want them to know, feel or do after hearing your speech. This BIG IDEA guides everything in your presentation because everything you write leads to this goal.

Let’s go through the process of crafting your BIG IDEA statement.

Step One: Brainstorm all the possible takeaways

Start with all possibilities. You know a lot about your audience if you answered fully my 4 questions to ask activity. Now just let your mind go crazy. List out everything you would want your audience to take away from your presentation. Now is the time to put it all out there.

Step Two: Circle the 3 most compelling IDEAS from the list

Look over your list. Compare it with your 4 audience analysis questions and see the overlap. How do your ideas compare with what the audience needs? How do your goals solve their biggest challenge? Think critically – don’t be too attached to your initial list. Now circle just 3 ideas.

Step Three: Narrow it down to one BIG IDEA

Just like the science fiction classic Highlander – there can be just one. You must identify the one BIG IDEA. This is the guiding force for your presentation. Every slide you make, every story you tell, every statistic you cite should go back to this BIG IDEA. Bounce your BIG IDEA off of your friends, a coach, or the person who booked you into the gig. Feedback is key to make sure your BIG IDEA resonates.

Step Four: Tips for crafting a BIG IDEA statement

  1. The BIG IDEA statement should be less than 10 words. Longer than 10 words and it won’t be memorable.
  2. Start with an action-oriented verb. The BIG IDEA is a goal. It implies movement. It is something to be reached.
  3. The BIG IDEA needs to be specific. It can’t be broad. If I was giving this eBook as a talk, a poor BIG IDEA would be “Understand public speaking.” It’s too broad and there is no way I could accomplish that in an hour’s talk or an eBook. Be specific – this eBook is about “Creating a presentation that captivates an audience.”

Now that you have a BIG IDEA, construct your entire speech around this idea. The BIG IDEA allows you to give the audience the focus and clarity that they desire. In this series, we've chatted about the importance of great content, the 3 types of speeches, discovering a topic and now the BIG IDEA statement. Next week, we tackle your personal goals for a speech and how to think about your call to action.

Need help in taking that BIG IDEA and putting it into action, schedule a complimentary Ignite Your Speaking Spark Session.

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11 responses to “What is the Big Idea of Your Presentation?”

  1. Sharon Roth says:

    This is so basic but I never realized that this is a very important question that speakers need to ask themselves. Thank you, Michelle! I think in the past my speeches have been focused on the information I wanted to present. I used your idea in my last speech and will continue to do this in speeches going forward.

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      You are so welcome Sharon! It does help to have that focus as you always know where you are going in a presentation when you do. You can always ask yourself is this direction getting me to the big idea of the presentation. You rock and keep speaking.

  2. How to Ruin a Presentation in the Last 30 Seconds | Online Career Tips says:

    […] discussed the BIG IDEA statement.Your conclusion is KEY to reinforcing your idea. The conclusion should contain 3 parts: […]

  3. Jeremy Wright says:

    I agree Sharon. It’s easy to overlook simple things such as overlooking the obvious. Instead of putting the emphasis on what the listener expects to hear, wants to hear and how the the listener will respond, many presenters jump right into developing a presentation that will often times fall short of the intended goal.

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Yes! It is such a simple (yet difficult) step, but it makes all the difference in making sure your message lands!

  4. Is Your Presentation on the Naughty List? - InNetwork Inc. says:

    […] and for you as the speaker. Start by understanding what the one key takeaway (or what I call the BIG IDEA statement) that you want to roll off the lips of your audience after you’ve finished speaking. Then […]

  5. 3 Ways to Craft a Presentation that Leaves Your Audience Buzzing about Your Business by @drmichellemazur | She Owns It says:

    […] the BIG IDEA is pivotal to creating a memorable […]

  6. 2 things effective speakers know about the brain says:

    […] crafting a ‘big idea statement’ to give your talk clear direction.  Keep it short;  lengthy statements are a good indication […]

  7. The What and How of Public Speaking says:

    […] working with a client on crafting a speech, we typically spend one session working out their big idea statement. I’ve detailed the process of writing your big idea in the blog post, and the process I use […]

  8. How Do You Adapt Your Presentation On-the-Spot? says:

    […] Request feedback -After you finish speaking, ask your audience for comments. What did they take away from your talk? This gets them involved and also lets you know if they got the BIG IDEA of your presentation. […]

  9. Tell Stories that SPARK the Imagination says:

    […] start with K, but cut me some slack. The carry-out message is important. It’s related to the BIG IDEA of your presentation. For Twilight, the carry out message is that you should totally change for […]

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