How to Make a Point
Your listeners can only remember a few points you make. How you make your points is essential.
You might think that making a point is easy. It is. But many people still get it wrong–here is how:
- They walk into a speaking situation without having prepared their one, two, or three key points.
- They make many points, and listeners are unclear about the key points.
- Their points are not “pointy”, i.e., they are too lengthy or complex.
- The points use abstract, inaccessible language or jargon.
Here is a mini framework for making a point.
Framework for making a point
- State your point: “So, the gist is that…[PAUSE]: …we’ve developed a model for doing XYZ.” [this is an example of a point]
- Elaborate on it: With an example or with a story.
- Say it again: “The bottom line is [PAUSE] we have a blueprint to do XYZ.”
Example: “So, the gist is that… we have developed a model for reliably bringing down childhood obesity. In Maryland alone, children lost an average of five pounds in schools where we rolled this out. The bottom line is… we have a blueprint that works.”
Do a hearing analysis of the script above by going to est.io/2n4.
Do you think you would remember the point if you were a listener? Of course, you would. The make-a-point framework makes sure you reinforce it (making your point twice), flag it (by saying “here’s my point”) and give it substance (with facts of impact).
Most people make the point without reinforcing, flagging, and substantiating.
During media interviews, you must know in advance what key points you want your audience to remember. Here are three things you can do in preparation:
Framework for media interview preparation
- Identify your key point(s).
- Write a script for saying them.
- Do a hearing analysis of the script.
- Refine the script as needed.
- Repeat the two steps above until you are happy.
Make sure that your point does not include the elaboration part. Your point itself should be short and sweet. It should be “pointy.” Consider the following key points that were made by movements that struggled or still are struggling to be accepted.
“The point is that… love is love.” (marriage equality).
“The bottom line is… it saves lives!” (sex education)
Knowing how to make your key point in a way that avoids triggering a knee-jerk negative reaction is important. Consider the marriage equality example above. The key point is not something like: “Marriage equality is the right thing to do.” The phrase “love is love” is more palatable to a broad audience. Many credit this reframing of the issue with the eventual success of the movement.
It also illustrates an especially “pointy” version of your key point. It is best to use this most pointed version for your final sentence in which you recap your point.
You are now prepared to make your key points in important situations.
- To make a point, make it, substantiate it with fact and examples, and then make it again.
- Know your key point(s) before going into a speaking situation.
- Keep them short and “pointy,” easy-to-understand and free of “trigger words.”
- Write down your key points before you go into a speaking situation.
- Test and refine them using Hearing Analysis.
- During interviews, put your key points in view, for example, on a post-it note.