Earlier this year, I discussed what we can learn from Abraham Lincoln's delivery style.
Now as Thanksgiving approaches, I want to focus on his content.
In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day.
In his Thanksgiving proclamation, Lincoln spoke of the importance of gratitude in a time of profound national strife. But as eloquent as his words may have been, it was only his call to action that gave his statement such lasting impact:
I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.
Lincoln's moving proclamation is a powerful reminder of the importance of including a clear action step in almost any speech.
Only rarely do we give a fully informative speech. Almost always, there is something we want our listeners to do.
We celebrate Thanksgiving each year as a national holiday because one leader called us to action. Each presentation is an opportunity not simply to inform but to influence change.
From the Green Room: Each time you prepare a presentation, ask yourself:
What do I want my audience to do after hearing me?
Then decide on a specific action. Clarifying the goal beforehand will help guide and focus your presentation.