The Roadmap

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“TURN!”

I grew up before the advent of GPS, and I keenly remember my passenger’s side-seat navigation.  If we were lucky, it involved last-second commands to take a turn or change lanes.  On many occasions, however, the command came seconds too late and we were forced to make hasty u-turns, back-track, or otherwise bumble our way to the destination.  

And while GPS gave us a digital roadmap to solve this problem in our cars, many speeches and presentations still suffer from unannounced and abrupt twists and turns that leave the audience dizzy with intellectual whiplash.

Fortunately, there is an easy-to-implement system to keep your talk on track.  It’s called “The Roadmap.”

The Roadmap is a simple statement at the beginning of your speech that explains to the audience the route your talk will take.  You can use a traditional outline, foreshadow the speech’s components in an engaging narrative, or even add a visual graphic to convey the trajectory of your talk. 

Whatever form it takes, The Roadmap has tangible benefits for both you and your audience.  Some of its benefits include, 

  • Ensures the speech has a clear organizational structure

  • Establishes discrete content areas to help limit superfluous information

  • Requires the speaker to thoughtfully order information to tell a coherent story

  • Facilitates an effective summary and memorable take-away messaging

  • Eliminates uncertainty and distraction.  (Audiences will be free to focus on the content and not internal ruminations like, “I wonder if we are going to get to _____?” or “I wonder if this is the end of the beginning, the beginning of the end, or somewhere in the middle?”)

  • Helps each audience member know when a subject of interest will occur so (s)he can maximize attention.  

Don't leave your audience directionless, consider including The Roadmap in your next presentation.

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