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How to Write A Killer Business Presentation

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Once you’re ready to start to write the first draft of your presentation, believe it or not, the hardest work is behind you.

“Really?” you say, “But I haven’t written the speech yet!”

Of course. And that will take time. But look how far you’ve come! Now you know what you want to say and roughly how you’ll say it. All that’s left is to write the darn thing.

Ready to get through the first draft? Here’s how.


Before you take out your pen or start typing away, we should talk about tone.

Here’s what I often see with Moxie’s coaching clients. With a new outline in hand, they trot off to their study, emerging three days later, over-caffeinated and unshaven, holding in their hands the final copy… of a college essay.

You don’t want your speech to sound like a college essay.

Think about how we normally talk: it’s fluid, with few fancy words.

We use simple, descriptive language.

We don’t say, “I beseech you to reinvigorate the remnants of the conflagration.”

We say, “could you add more wood to the fire?”

Your goal in a presentation isn’t to sound smart. It’s to be clear.

The tone we’re aiming for in your talk is conversational but considered.

In other words, speak like you normally do when you speak at your best.

The words you’re adding to this draft should sound exactly like your voice. If you don’t use a lot of contractions normally–if you always say “I cannot” instead of “I can’t”–then write that way. If you don’t typically use adverbs like “typically,” omit them.

We’re usually unaware of our verbal habits. Ask a spouse or very close friend. Trust me, they’ll know some.

Finally, know your audience. Don’t use jargon your audience won’t understand, but even when speaking to specialists, if your grandma couldn’t understand your central message, it’s too complex.


Having said that: don’t sweat the tone too much at that stage. You’ll do that later, once you start revising.

To get through your first draft, write everything. Aim for simplicity, but don’t ask yourself whether each phrase is simple enough.

Don’t succumb to the temptation to care about eloquence right now. It doesn’t have to sound good. It just needs to be written.

Just write. Turn off your inner editor, and let the creativity flow.

I could elaborate on this, but I couldn’t say it better than Anne Lamott:

“For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really sh***y first drafts. The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page.”

The goal with your first draft is just to get it done. It won’t be perfect–it probably won’t even be good!–but it will be done.

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