I do a lot of professional speaking, lots and lots of presentations. The feedback was always pretty good, but then I stumbled upon this strategy. I implemented it right away, changing up the structure of my presentation the night before a talk on Executive Presence for Leaders in ICT in Sydney in 2016. The impact was immediate and enormous.

My feedback went from

“great presenter, really knowledgeable and warm”


“this was a life changing day for me”


“THIS is what I came here for”


“your talk had the best feedback we have ever received from ANY presentation EVER”

That last one was from one of Australia’s largest conference producers.

Can I share the strategy with you?

This format works wonders whether you’re presenting to 400 or to 40 or to 4 people.


It’s all about punchline placement.

We’re kind of used to telling a story that ends with a punchline – like the old Dad jokes, right? The thing is, around today’s exec and board tables, if you’re waiting till the end of your story to deliver your high impact punchline, the big result / request / change you want people to take? My friend you’ll be lucky to get there. Competing egos and priorities and sadly even boredom may all cut in and cut you off before you get there.

Every colleague of yours is also a consumer. As consumers we’ve become used to sound bites: getting messages in 140 characters or less. So how can your ‘big idea’ corporate messaging come into line with that?


We've become used to soundbites. How does your 'big idea' corporate message come into line with that?


Nancy Duarte researched hundreds of high impact talks, including Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ and Steve Jobs’ Apple Launch speech. She found that they follow a pattern.

How great is that? I mean, if there’s a pattern to brilliance, let me follow the pattern and emanate some of that brilliance too, right?

Truly, I followed the pattern, it worked. I’ve shared this as part of the Impactful Communications Training I do in face to face workshops, online training and large scale conferences. The feedback is that people are applying this and it’s working for them too. Small scale, large scale, this is deeply impactful.


Start with the punchline – your dream

Then “now we do have X challenges to overcome…”

Next “but how great would it be if we could overcome those things, because this dream is just awesome, right?”

Then ‘I know there’s Y and Z objections too and those are valid’

Finally “but I know we can overcome those things because of A and you’ve already proven you can because of B and C and D and E”


Why does it work?

Because you’re not only raising the hype on the possibilities. You’re also acknowledging the barriers. You’re not ignoring people’s concerns, you’re bringing them along on the journey with you. You’re reminding them of the evidence of their likely success. By the time you get to that last round of ‘this is why I know we can do it’, the room is fired up, truly engaged, ready to take those steps with you.


Like some more tips?

Check out our blog on Inspiring Leaders, how to be more inspiring. Or join us for the next Impactful Communication Training. You can see the online version here or find live workshops in our Upcoming Events list… or subscribe to be notified when those or other resources are coming up.

Have fun applying this. Let me know how you go applying it, I’d love to hear from you.


Cath Nolan is a Corporate Coach and serial business founder. With over 15 years, several thousand participants, hundreds of global brands and a long list of professional speaking gigs in her experience list, Cath’s focus is helping individuals to become the best of themselves, to achieve what’s most important to them. To see more, including free resources, visit cathnolan.com


Competence + Confidence + Great Communication = Powerful Impact