The Five Steps
How to create practice and deliver a presentation or pitch
In public speech it’s good to know where you are going – both mentally and physically. This knowledge lets you relax and tell the story. It also enables those listening to relax and focus on your words.
THE FIVE STEP APPROACH TO BETTER PRESENTING:
This basic frame for unpacking your thoughts has been in use for thousands of years; from Greek oration, to Shakespeare, to a closing argument given yesterday by a top lawyer.
Having a clear method of unpacking your thoughts can have the most tremendously persuasive impact; it will also calm your nerves, and allow your mind, body, breath and voice to work together to present your thoughts as you desire.
I’ve noticed how this simple and ancient form of speech construction is still being used today; for instance, when watching particularly interesting TED Talks online.
The Five Steps
1. The Opening Proposition: YOU
Introduce yourself clearly and relatively slowly.
As you start, have in mind where you are going with this story, but begin your opening proposition in the broadest of terms.
You can be straightforward, or if you wish, you can cloak your opening proposition in a little mystery, perhaps with an engaging question, or even start with a joke.
The big thing is to be clear about WHO you are, WHAT you do, and WHY you are here.
Connect before you convince.
2. The General: THEM
Drill down into your story a little, with an easily understood case, or illustration, to connect with this particular audience.
This general example of what you are talking about can connect with this audience on a human, or sector specific level.
Still the focus is on connecting - before convincing. 3. The Specific Example: WHAT
This is what they have come to hear about; your specific product, your specific service.
Give a clear and concise explanation, illustration or presentation.
As they have connected with you on steps 1&2, they will be more prepared to be convinced by you.
3. The Specific: WHAT
This is the “meat” of the sandwich - It’s what you've come to talk about.
What is your specific offer/product/point?
This is the opportunity to go into detail.
4. The Personal: WHY
Reveal the passion. Reveal your personal connection with what you are talking about.
What is driving you? Why does this FEEL so important to YOU?
Drive home the convincing with your personal connection to what you are talking about.
5. The Summation: TAKE AWAY
Wrap it up - with a clear thought for the listeners to think about afterwards.
So, now we have a mental journey for your pitch or presentation. But if you think about how you would present this live, then it’s worth planning what you do with your body and voice, so that you marshal the whole of yourself to tell the story.
Take steps – literally – on your journey. In other words, think of each of the Five Steps as a specific place; walk into each part of the story. This helps get the shape and route of your mental journey clearer in your mind, and body.
Position One: Centre back
The Opening Introduction and Proposition
Position Two: Go forward to the left
The General Example
Position Three: Move right to centre forward
The Specific Example
Position Four: Move to the right side forward
The Personal Example
Position Five/One: Go back “home” to start point
The Summation. The Take Away.
Think, breathe, and then speak into the new thought / position. Thoughts and actions then become one, bringing the speech to life.
Ensure that you avoid THINK / BREATHE / HOLD in the throat / SPEAK – especially at the start. You’ll be amazed at the power in your voice if you eliminate the habit of hold. See online tutorial.
This basic plan can be adapted to even the smallest of spaces; taking one small step into position or just shifting the weight on the feet can work as well. Even in a chair you can think your way through the journey.
This approach obviously really helps on a stage type presentation; to avoid being pinned to the centre or being stuck at a podium – the last thing you want to do.
Be aware of walking out of the lit area of the stage. Rehearse in the space if you can.
For reassurance, have bullets (only) of each Step, left nearby – next to your water.
Using the different positions for a stood presentation / pitch has several advantages for your vocal delivery / performance:
Your voice slightly shifts as you move into a new thought / position.
The changing positions give the audience different perspectives of your person – making it more
Your vocal delivery is enhanced by using the changing acoustics and altered reception of the each ear of the listeners as you move about.
You can vocally enliven the journey by slight changes in pitch, pace and tone as you go into each new thought / position. Start slow and low.
Moving into each step stops fidgeting and wobbly feet / legs; you can step out of tension, or something that didn’t go according to plan.
You can take the audience on the journey - get more connection with them.
You literally take a journey. This makes it easier to plan, rehearse and remember - particularly when you deliver; “I’m down left, I must be giving my general example”.
Mapping position and content make it easy to rehearse the shape of the piece in your mind without endless repetition of the text, which you might get bored with.
Remarkably Good use of Power Point:
This way of planning, rehearsing and delivering eliminates the need for the power point as prompt, thereby losing your audience.
Use the odd illustration if you need to, with no text - but if you absolutely must use some text, remember that humans cannot read and listen at the same time. Give them time to read.
Essentially they’ve come to see you – not a bunch of slides. Send a lovely illustrated set of notes afterwards.
If you need to use a PP illustration / video:
Use it very sparingly to clarify and illustrate a point – not to tell the whole story.
Introduce the image, then show it – try to avoid speaking over it if possible, or if you do, clearly direct their attention.
Each time the slide content is understood, TURN IT OFF, and get the focus back on you.
Delivering your pitch / presentation is part of the whole journey from the conception of your ideas, to making them a reality. It needs as much attention, focus and planning as you’d give to any part of your successful business life. Excellent presentations given “off the cuff” are very rare – and even if great presenters look improvised, they probably weren’t. Ease comes with practise. Be kind to yourself.