The simple PREP tool is an essential part of your dynamic speaking toolkit. Use it to provide organization in your communication. Use PREP in many situations: answering questions, making a concise summary of a learning point, or emphasizing key points in a presentation or speech. You can string multiple PREP segments together and provide a rich tapestry of knowledge, analysis, and engaging personal stories or anecdotes.
Perhaps the reason that PREP works so well is that it follows a logical, scientific method-like flow. The speaker makes an assertion or gives a hypothesis, declaring the Point to be so without equivocation or qualification. The Point can be an attributable quote, the speaker’s own observation, a piece of established knowledge, or a message or policy from someone else that the speaker is tasked to deliver. During workforce training classes, I often call the class back to order from a break with a PREP focused on a famous quote related to the topic at hand, employ a short PREP to illustrate the significance of a learning point on a slide, or use the PREP format when addressing a student question.
Immediately after stating the Point, the speaker relates the Reason why the quote, observation, knowledge, or message is true. Then, the speaker provides analysis and research into the statement that is vital to the listener’s understanding and comprehension. Therefore, the Reason brings theory and information to the discussion to provide significance, substance, and understanding to the Point.
Now, after understanding the Point being made and the Reason for it, the audience is prepared to test the hypothesis—they need evidence! Thus the Example shows implementation and operation of the Point by describing a situation, the action taken or the interaction observed, and the outcome or resolution. A well-described engaging story, preferably personal but may be second hand or hypothetical, draws the audience into a moment where they can test and observe in a scientific fashion the results, and agree with the speaker regarding the veracity of the Point as expounded by the Reason.
Then, the speaker wraps up the entire discussion by returning to the original Point.
Several years ago I found myself in front of a hostile audience. I was delivering a training program to a geographically remote part of the Naval Aviation acquisition organization. They were not inclined to listen to me as they thought that I was representing headquarters and had come just to push them around and tell them what to do. Besides, it was mandatory attendance for them, and I imagine that many thought that they had better things to do than listen to me. Time to reach into my dynamic speaking toolkit and pull out PREP!
I needed to disarm them right from the start. The group I was speaking to designed and built flight simulators to train pilots for tactics, operations, and emergencies. My background, as a US Navy helicopter pilot, meant that I had used some of their products throughout my flying career, and so it would be normal and acceptable for me to thank them for their work.
I did exactly that, as my Point, but surprised them when I got to the Reason because I told them that their efforts in building training simulators directly contributed to saving my life during an inflight emergency. I then followed with my Example – a short recounting of my story. A landing gear malfunction in the C-12 aircraft I was piloting meant that I had a real possibility of having to perform a controlled crash-landing. The nose gear and right main landing gear were down, but the left main gear stayed up in the wheel well. The situation was made even worse when we completely broke the motor by following the steps in checklist, thus preventing retracting the two that were down and going with a belly-landing.
The confidence and knowledge that I had gained in the simulator by practicing landing in that configuration several weeks before calmed me and allowed for clear thinking and effective troubleshooting that resulted in a safe landing. Taking the advice over the radio from the aircraft maintenance crew on the ground, the copilot and I had to remove the floorboards from the cabin of the aircraft (highly unusual while one is flying through the air), reach down into the cavity, find where the mechanism had failed, and manually rotate the driveshaft to the left main landing gear over 650 times.
After directly attributing their occupation, livelihood, and work product to my successful outcome, I won them over as my thanks to them was sincere, from the heart, and meaningful. As I completed the PREP format by returning to my Point, an illustrated and proven thank you, I could tell that they felt a new bond with me and were ready to listen to what I had come to bring them that day.
Practice the simple PREP method and make it part of your dynamic speaking toolkit. Then, use it to answer questions, summarize learning points, or emphasize key points. Additionally, use PREP to tie in your personal stories or anecdotes in a meaningful way, connecting to the audience and building rapport as an engaging, natural, and conversational dynamic speaker.
PREP in Action – today’s CommLink. Be sure to look for more Dynamic Speaking Principles from P H Tyson & Associates.
Click Here to learn how you can Practice PREP with downloadable PREP Cards!