The Secret Formula to a Great Speech

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 26th Jul 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Activism

Speaking is so important for us all. Speaking well will help us in all aspects of life, whether applying for a job or asking for assistance. We remember those who speak well and those that do it badly, but for very different reasons. This article presents some tips to good speaking.

So you want to Speak and be Understood

I wanted to give you a flavour of how to become a good speaker and enable you to conquer all of your fears of any situation where you may be called upon to speak, whether that be a job interview or providing a keynote speech. Basically there are three components to success in speaking. These are:

1 - Being ready
2 - Being present, and
3 - A small amount of secret sauce which I shall reveal at the end.

Being Ready

In order to speak your material must be ready. You will have your quotes or facts ready in order to support your argument.

Research your material well before giving the speech. Prepare your slides or have your handouts ready well before the meeting. I have found that in preparing for a business meeting it is best to anticipate the key questions you may be asked and have answers prepared already, so that you are not left fumbling when the question comes. Part of this is about knowing the audience, which requires an entirely different article.

Know your material so that you can speak without reference to notes. If you truly do need notes then disguise them in some way - e.g. through the slides that you use. For the speaker displaying the slide enables a story to be told.

Before you start ask yourself:

* What is my intention here today? And...
* Will I have fun in presenting this?

These are the key to being ready! Yes you will have nerves and you will forget to say something but even the greatest speakers make mistakes, they simply know how to hide the error and move on to the next element of what they have to say.

If you are at a job interview your intention is clear, you are presenting a short history of your capabilities in order that the person on the other side of the table will employ you. If you are speaking to the board about a proposed change in business direction then have the end, or vision, firmly in mind. Every speech has an intention, usually to change someones view about a specific subject, maybe to inform the audience, or to inspire them to take action.

Why is having fun so important? We can have fun even in the most tedious of situations. I have found that I do my best work when I am having fun doing it. I remember a boring summer job that I had one summer as a college student, in order to make it more fun I set myself challenges. These challenges changed the whole complexion of the job and weeks later the company was sad to see me depart.

Am I present?

Give the audience something of you. The speaker is of very little value if they are not giving the audience something from their own personal experience. Even when when presenting on a dry (or boring) business topic you can always bring something of your own experience to assist the listener grasp the subject more fully.

I have always found that at least to some extent your audience wants you to offer in part some solution to their problems. At least this is especially true for business presentations. A full solution may take further work, but your speech offers a step in the right direction that audience members are able to build on either by themselves or with your help.

After all we could always learn about the things you have to say from a book, or perhaps by a search on Google. what is added by your speech is the personal experience, and that is key.

The Secret Sauce

Act as if This is the Very Last Speech you will ever Make!

One of the best pieces of advice that I have heard in a long while is that, for any project that you are involved in, if you assume that it will be the last thing you ever do then you will tend to make it the best thing that you have ever done. I would like to attribute this idea to one specific individual, but have read it in three of four separate places, at or around the same time.

But think about it for a second - what does this concept mean to you?

To me it is about leaving a swan-song for everything that you have done in your life. It is a fact that we all want to leave the best impression of what we are capable of, but we should always to that now, not as we die. Yet when will we die? No one can know that, so we should work as if what we are doing now is the last thing we ever do.

Recently I wrote an article called "Last Exit Before… Does a Business Opportunity Knock?" where I talked about facing your “Last opportunity in life” and asked the question what would you be doing right now to fulfill one last goal? The same thinking applies here - what can you do to make this your swan-song? Your last ever speech!

Are you Ready?

So I conclude where I started by saying that to give a good speech you must be ready (prepared etc), be present (in both mind and body) and act as if this is the very last speech you will ever make. With this formula you will be ready to speak whenever you need to. This is where becoming a member of your local Toastmasters Club can help.

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author avatar Retired
27th Jul 2011 (#)

Excellent advice...well said...thanks for sharing...

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author avatar Delicia Powers
27th Jul 2011 (#)

Outstanding, well done, and thank you!

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author avatar Denise O
27th Jul 2011 (#)

Excellent advice for those that make speeches. I know when I use to have to make them, I was a nervous wreck but, as you have pointed out, being prepared takes a lot of those woes away. Well written! Congrats on the star page, it is well deserved. As always, thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar David Reinstein,LCSW
27th Jul 2011 (#)

Now, it is no longer a secret! Thanks.

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author avatar aimera
2nd Aug 2011 (#)

I agree with adding personal experience into a speech. It grabs audience attention by appealing to their human side.

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author avatar jayababy
7th Aug 2011 (#)

A secret is revealed. Thx for sharing.

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