Speaking Tips: Build Your Message in Three Acts

Speaking Tips: Build Your Message in Three Acts

At the heart of almost everything we teach is the concept of intentionality… preparing and communicating with intention and purpose. Great communication skills don’t just happen. Not without some thought, effort, planning, and yes, intention.

In addition to being intentional about your message’s main points, we also encourage being intentional about the structure, sequence and flow of your message. And to that end, here is a great way to think about and plan your message, in three acts.


ACT I: The Open

You meet your audience, and your audience meets you. Your goal is to get them engaged right away, and the best way to do that is showing them what will be coming. Give them the topic, the main points, the key players, whatever key information they will need later. We don’t want them thinking ahead to the final act. We want them engaged in the moment.

If you really want to advance your skills, use story, quotes, anecdotes, or a statistic to capture attention and to introduce your key points. Try to make them feel it, care about it.

And if your topic is controversial, don’t keep them in suspense. Get it out there, in a respectful way. Hiding it from them until the end won’t make them like it more.

ACT II: The Detail

You now have their attention, and you need to prove your point. You need to provide the relevant detail so that they will support your idea, agree with your point, follow your lead, etc.

Don’t add anything extra. Extra detail doesn’t make it better. Details need to earn their way into your presentation. If it doesn’t fit, put it aside.

And if you want or need to hold their attention for a long time, then divide your content into chapters or sections. At the end of each chapter, give your audience a moment to absorb with an internal summary.

ACT III: The Close

Go back to the beginning. Tell them nothing new. Pick the things you want them to remember most, and say them again. If ACT 1 and ACT III sound a lot alike, then you have written a good message plan.

Three acts. That’s all! Keep it simple!

Have a great day.


We believe great communication skills create opportunities, build connections and drive change.

We empower the next generation of business leaders with the communication skills to advocate for themselves and what they believe.

We coach these skills through engaging learning experiences designed for business success.

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