A few years after starting my leadership and speaker training work, I noticed a disturbing trend.

My clients spoke with conviction, planted their feet, making good eye contact, and gestured intentionally. But when I asked them the point of their speeches, their responses were all over the map – including themes, topics, categories, titles and slogans.

What I rarely heard was a real point: a simple proposition that the idea X will have a significant impact on Yes.

What do I mean by that? Imagine two presenters arguing to increase a company’s investment in social media marketing.

If you ask them for their perspective, they might say “social media marketing”. But it’s a topic. Or they could say “the importance of social media marketing in business”. But it’s a Title. Or they could say “the growing phenomenon of social media marketing“. But it’s a theme.

One point is different. It is an assertion that you propose, argue, defend, illustrate and prove. The value and purpose are clear and define a specific and significant impact.

How to get to the essentials faster

To easily bring up a topic, title or theme to a point, I recommend using the “I Believe It” exercise. This is how it works:

  1. Imagine your argument – the kind you would make to a coworker, boss, client, or partner – in one sentence.
  2. Put the words “I believe that” in front.
  3. Ask yourself the question: is this now a full sentence with a clear point?

If you have a complete sentence, you are probably right. But if you don’t have a complete sentence, reinvent the line so that it becomes one.

For example, these are fragments, not clear dots:

  • “I believe social media marketing …”
  • “I believe the importance of social media marketing …”
  • “I believe the role of social media marketing in business communications …”

(Your fifth-grade English teacher wouldn’t be impressed.)

But that’s a full sentence, and therefore a point: “I think increasing our investment in social media marketing will expose our product to more millennials, unlocking new revenue streams.”

Here are some other examples of raising topics in points:

  • Not a point: “I believe in innovations in computer science.”
    A clear point: “I believe that innovations in computer science will make us more efficient.”
  • Not a point: “I believe in inequalities.
    A clear point: “I believe inequality is America’s greatest domestic challenge.”
  • Not a point: “I believe that investment in infrastructure.”
    A clear point: “I believe that investing in infrastructure is the best way to prepare for our future.

You don’t need to include the words “I believe” in your argument, but consider how that inclusion increased the level of personal conviction behind these famous three points:

  • “I believe unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the last word.”
    Martin Luther King jr.
  • “I believe that good journalism – good television – can make our world a better place.”
    Christiane Amanpour
  • “I believe that as long as there is abundance, poverty is evil.”
    Robert F. Kennedy

Increase the impact of your words

Once you’ve passed the “I believe that” test, use the three tips below to make sure your point is substantial and relevant:

1. Avoid truisms.

A truism is an obviously true statement (eg, “social media is popular”, “hard work is important”, “ice cream is delicious”), so there is no point in offering one as a point of reference. seen.

2. Always include the “why”.

“I believe social media marketing is important” is a full sentence, but it doesn’t explain which makes important social media marketing.

When you have a broad adjective like “important” or “large,” be sure to include a very clear “why” or a meaningful impact statement.

3. End with your most important impact.

Is your ultimate goal really higher website traffic, more Twitter followers, or higher spikes on a data graph – or are these just milestones towards a bigger goal?

Don’t sell your item short. To keep your story inspiring, convey the biggest impact, whether it’s protecting the environment, saving lives, or selling more Coca-Cola.

Without a point, everything you say is useless

The dangers of not having a point cannot be overstated. You might be the most confident speaker in the world but fail if you don’t know your point of view, let alone if you do. Speaking without a real argument is also the main cause of rambling, low audience engagement, and epic failure.

Remember that arriving at your point of view, making your point, sticking to your point of view, and asserting your point of view all starts with one crucial task: knowing your point of view.

Joel schwartzberg is a leadership and public speaking coach whose clients include American Express, Blue Cross Blue Shield, State Farm Insurance and the Brennan Center for Justice. He is also the author of “Go straight to the point! Refine your message and make your words count ” and “The Language of Leadership: How to Engage and Inspire Your Team.” Joel has written for Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Toastmaster. Follow him on twitter @thejoeltruth.

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