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Presentation skills: Speechwriting and Storytelling (Coursera)

“99% presentations suck!”, — said Apple former evangelist Guy Kawasaki in 2005. Up to now the situation hasn’t improved yet. Why? Most public speaking courses focus on “how” instead of “what & why”. How to stand, walk and talk during delivery with little attention paid to “what” — the quality of storytelling itself. Thereby a usual result is a looking slightly confident speaker with mesmerizing voice delivering an obscure mess of facts, figures and claims.

In this course we take a more systematic approach, focusing on the content. How to structure your ideas, facts and data into a logical convincing story using a narrative structure. This course covers fundamentals of scriptwriting, packing, argumentation and language.

This course is not about how to fabricate a catching tale, but rather how to structure your ideas, facts and data into an interesting story you are going to tell during your presentation.

Course 1 of 4 in the Presentation Skills: Speechwriting, Slides and Delivery Specialization



Part 1: Setting the goals

This week is about setting proper goals for a presentation. Most people don’t set any proper goals when preparing for a presentation. That’s an error we are going to fix this week.

Graded: Test for week 1

Graded: Formulate goals for 3 TEDs

Graded: Find a goal for a presentation


Part 2: Sustaining interest

This week is about the storytelling and how to apply it to your presentation content. What a story is in a nutshell. Why stories are the best form of conveying information. How to create a conflict. How to sustain interest of the audience during your middle part of the presentation.

Graded: Test for week 2

Graded: Tesla PowerWall problem statements

Graded: GM problem statements


Part 3: Providing evidence

This week is about evidence. If you have no evidence supporting your Problem and Solution — that means you have nothing to talk about. We are going to talk about stories as arguments and how to make engaging arguments using statistics (numbers are not boring!) and logical reasoning. Using a proper valid evidence gives you confidence and makes you script convincing.

Graded: Test for week 3

Graded: Compare two products using evidence-based approach


Part 4: The middle

This week is about organizing the middle part of your presentation. Too often it becomes too complex, too long, too unstructured. So we are going to talk about appropriate number of sub-parts in your middle part , ways of organizing your data using LATCH method, using metaphors and analogies to make your messages vivid and easy to grasp for the audience.

Graded: Test for week 4

Graded: Reframe attitude to AB-testing

Graded: Give an analogy to screening test


Part 5: The language of the presentation

his week is about language you speak or write slides with. Concrete vs abstract words. Common everyday words vs jargon. Active voice vs passive voice. Short vs long sentences.A mistake often made — to speak as you write. Such approach leads to vague, long and unclear messages. We are going to fix this.

Graded: Test for week 5

Graded: Edit the text


Part 6: The beginning and the end

This week has two topics: 1. how to start your presentation (Introduction part), how to gain trust and remove confusion in the beginning and 2. A detailed summary of all the things we mentioned in the previous weeks.

Graded: Test for week 6

Graded: The Final Task