Think of any great speech you’ve ever heard; chances are you’ll struggle to remember any of the actual words but have no trouble recalling how those forgotten words made you feel. Ask any speechwriter – the words are essentially disposable.

It’s the feelings that matter.

Next time you have to give a presentation, before you write a single word ask yourself:

“What mood/s do I want to create?”

Imagine a magic dial that controls how your audience feels: with a simple twist you could make them laugh, cry, yell, sing, think or storm the capital. Think about the emotional and intellectual journey you want to take them on. Imagine their reactions exactly as you’d want them.


When should they laugh? Should they keep laughing or should the mood become more serious or reflective? Would you like to generate something a little more hopeful and positive? Could that grow to be more inspiring?

Think about the duration of your presentation. When should they feel what?

Think about the pacing; which bits are short, which are long? Which bits should be fast and punchy and which slow and profound? Do you want to give your audience a gradual build to big finish or a thrilling rollercoaster ride?

Now think about all the material you want to convey to match the mood you want to create.

Let’s say you want to convey the message: WE MUST CHANGE.

You might use a charming personal story to convey that message in a funny way… or site a terrifying statistic to hammer the message in a confronting way. You could mention an intriguing experiment to present it in a curious way or borrow a famous quote to say it in an inspiring way.

Say it with stories. Say it with numbers. Say it with flowers.

But whatever you do, say it with feeling.

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Written by Jason Clarke

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Celebrated author, adventurer, gold medal Olympian and popular TV chef; Jason is none of these things. He is, however, one of the most sought-after creative minds in the country. As founder of Minds at Work, he’s helped people ‘think again’ since the end of the last century, working with clients across Australia in virtually every industry and government sector on issues ranging from creativity and trouble shooting to culture change and leadership.