“Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.”
No, actually it isn’t. The end is a very good place to start.
When I help people develop presentations, my first question is, “What is the one thing you want people to leave the room thinking about?” And we work backwards from there.
The same approach can be used for any pitch, proposal, speech, chapter, article, newsletter or piece of marketing copy. You have to know where you want to take people before you can decide what you are going to present to get them there.
Job #1: Figure out the final statement you want to leave people with. Then write it down at the very top of your page.
We can all too easily get bogged down with research, analogies, story structure, unique selling propositions, voice, etc. but if you approach every communication by clearly writing down the very last thing you want to say, you can stay focused. All roads must point there.
“Persuasion is the art of moving people from Point A, a place of ignorance, indifference or even hostility toward your goal… navigating them through an unbroken series of aha!s… to Point B, a place where they act as your investors, customers, partners or advocates, ready to march to your drum.” ~ Jerry Weissman in Presenting to Win (check it out on Google Books)
You have to know where Point B is, to effectively lead people from A to B.