Talking points provide a framework or outline for a person or persons to speak on behalf of an organization. They reflect the goals and values of that organization. Talking points are used to insure message consistency when several people are expected to represent the same point of view before several different audiences. In many ways, the use of talking points is similar to the use of a speech text or a speech outline. The major difference is that talking points allow different speakers to assert their own style and personality while, at the same time, guaranteeing that common facts and values are stressed.
Talking points are most appropriate when several people may be expected to speak on behalf of an organization. An example is when various community leaders may be asked to speak out in support of the local United Way fund drive. Another example is when several employees may be expected to respond to news media inquiries about a particular subject. Different organization representatives can have differing levels of credibility with certain audiences. For example, a line supervisor is likely to have more credibility with the rank-and-file than upper management. These line supervisors are also more likely to speak the language of their fellow workers. At the same time, certain executives may have more credibility among investors than others. Talking points allow organizations to match up the these representatives with those audiences while maintaining a consistency of message.
Talking points are not appropriate when the situation necessitates the use of precise language. Those occasions include presentations before governmental bodies or statements concerning pending litigation. In those instances, a poorly worded ad lib could undermine an organization's position. Some people are not comfortable or possess the speaking ability to talk in a conversational manner. There are also situations where a written record of what has been said is desirable. That it is why it is best under those conditions to work from a prepared script.
Talking points are organized in a logical pattern with an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Often the introduction and conclusion are scripted in much the same way a speech text is scripted. The amount of detail provided in the body can vary. The most important consideration is making clear the essential points to be delivered to the audience. The information should reinforce thosepoints, not overwhelm or bury them.
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