If there is one thing everyone needs to understand before they start their presentation it’s the ending. Begin with the end in mind. As Oscar-winning movie director Andrew Stanton explains, “Storytelling is joke telling. It’s knowing your punch line, your ending. Knowing that everything you’re saying from the first sentence to the last is leading to a singular goal.”
Ask yourself: when’s the last time that you built your presentation, meeting agenda or sales pitch on a punch line? Did you begin with the end in mind? Did you pre-plan the one thing you wanted everyone in the room to leave with? It’s absurd not to plan a punch line - even the worst joke tellers have one in mind. So, if you have never done it then it’s time to start.
It’s the big idea, the lead of your story, and most importantly, the phrase that signifies the biggest change in how you want your listener to think or act about your topic.
Your punch line should not be “buy my product” because that is a message focused entirely on you. It needs to be a message that is framed with the listener in mind. How and why should your listener think or act differently about technology, an issue or their priorities. What problem are you trying to solve?
It is the most important thing you want to impart to your listener and the whole reason you are speaking to them in the first place. Therefore, not only do we need to be ruthless in prioritizing our most important message but we also have to frame it in a way that matters to them.
The fact is that most communication does not begin with the end in mind and, as a consequence, quickly becomes convoluted and confused. However, if you spend the time beginning at the end then it will lead the way. It will frame everything you do and all of the supporting content, claims and evidence that you need to gain buy-in will come easy.