Attending the TWIST Conference for Woman breakfast this week, Victoria Budson of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government delivered a dynamic presentation on women and leadership. Of all of the notes I scribbled on the back of my handout (and there were a lot of notes!), one of her quotes jumped out at me as I re-read what I had written after the breakfast: “Before you go on stage, know what you want your audience to feel, think, know, and do.”
Seems like common sense, doesn’t it? I began to think of the speaking engagements I have lined up to present this spring, and I started to question whether I had thought through what I wanted my audience to feel, think, know and do. My focus is generally outward – what does the audience want and need? But did I think about what I want and need from the audience?
This brings me to purpose, the reason why I am speaking. Purpose is not what kind of speech I am delivering, but my purpose for delivering it. A purpose statement for a speech is specific, relevant, and short. A good purpose statement contains just 10 words. Keeping a purpose statement concise eliminates rambling and a directionless presentation. It keeps the presentation’s message focused and strategic.
Twyla Tharp, renowned dance choreographer and author of “The Creative Habit” likens one’s purpose to “spine”. The spine of your work is your intention, the core of why the work was created in the first place. She writes, “Once you accept the power of spine in the creative act, you will become much more efficient in your creativity… It will remind you that this is what you have set out to do, this is the story you’re trying to tell, this is the effect you’re trying to achieve.”
As I review what I have created to deliver this spring, this is a good reminder to ask if each presentation has spine? Does the presentation meet my audience’s wants and needs… and does it fulfill what I want and need it to do? A presentation without purpose has no power.