BLOOMFIELD, Conn., Oct. 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Whether you’re updating your boss, leading a meeting or a discussion, or just trying to get your point across, choosing what your key points are and previewing them for the listener will get everyone moving in the same direction, say the authors of a new book on presentation effectiveness.

Success at work requires a different way of communicating, say Leesa Wallace and Kathy McAfee, authors of the book Sharpening Your Point: Winning the Battle for Communication Efficiency (2019,

Sharpening Your Point book cover
Sharpening Your Point book cover

“Your key points are the headlines of the areas in which you will go into depth to support your position, ask, rationale, or example,” says Wallace. “To make this easier, think of newspaper or online articles. They all have headlines. And the best, most captivating headlines are usually no more than six to eight words.”

According to their book, Wallace and McAfee recommend the following seven steps for developing key points for a presentation:

  1. Focus. Usually two to three key points are enough for any discussion. More makes things worse, not better.
  2. Align. Select key points that will support either your position, ask, or rationale.
  3. Headlines Only. No more than one to three words to headline each of your key points.
  4. Use Buckets. Choose more general terms and concepts, rather than specifics, as your key points. The specific stuff comes during the middle of the discussion, not the beginning.
  5. Exercise Patience. Resist the urge go into detail on any of your key points until you finish your opening.
  6. Aim For Simplicity. Make your key points simple enough that people can remember them in their heads and/or write them down. Avoid complex words or long phrases as your key points.
  7. Pause And Look. When you are saying your key points, pause briefly between each one and look at a different person. This will help to slow you down and make your key points more memorable and impactful for your listeners.

“We aren’t sure why, but developing key points seems to confuse many people,” says McAfee. “A key point is something that you will eventually be discussing or speaking about in more depth, and your audience needs to know in your opening to be listening for it.”

Over a period of thirty years, Wallace has helped bring success to organizations such as GE, Deloitte, Blum Shapiro, Harbor One Bank, Bridgeport Fittings, Odyssey Reinsurance, Louis Vuitton, TJX, Tradewind Aviation, Bristol Myers Squibb and Trinity Health of New England. In 2011, Leesa gave up “working for the man” and decided to “be the man,” opening her own leadership development consulting practice.

McAfee is an executive presentation coach and professional speaker and is known as America’s Marketing Motivator. She works with organizations who want to develop a stronger and more diverse pipeline of future leaders and a workforce that is highly engaged and motivated. A prolific writer, she is the author of Stop Global Boring, Networking Ahead, 3rd  edition, and coauthor of Defining You.

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