Source: Fast Company, May 2016
The point of a talk is to say something meaningful. “through-line,” the connecting theme that ties together each narrative element. Every talk should have one.
A good exercise is to try to encapsulate your through-line in no more than 15 words. And those 15 words need to provide robust content. It’s not enough to think of your goal as, “I want to inspire the audience” or “I want to win support for my work.” It has to be more focused than that. What is the precise idea you want to build inside your listeners? What is their takeaway?
Think of your talk as a journey that the speaker and the audience take together, with the speaker as the guide. But if you, the speaker, want the audience to come with you, you probably need to give them a hint of where you’re going. And then you need to be sure that each step of the journey helps get you there.
In this journey metaphor, the through-line traces the path that the journey takes. It ensures that there are no impossible leaps, and that by the end of the talk, the speaker and audience have arrived together at a satisfying destination.