Listed among people’s greatest fears is public speaking. You stand in front of a crowd, exposed and vulnerable – all eyes are on you. The spotlights, though sometimes hot and blinding, offer a little comfort because they shield you from potential yawns or glazed-over eyes. What they do not shield you from, however, is the sound of muffled untimely laughter or muted response to a poorly written speech.
It is hard to explain the fear of public speaking until you have experienced it yourself. But it does not have to feel so terrifying. With a solid plan and good speechwriting, you can have the audience in the palm of your hand and enjoying your presentation.
Believe it or not, you can even learn to enjoy speaking in public. To feel the impact of your words and insight resonate in a room of hundreds can be a rush. To educate, to influence, and to possibly share the love of Christ to a room of fresh and eager ears is a privilege to not be taken lightly. Your words have the power to inspire, to change the trajectory of a company, or to lead someone to receive the gift of eternal life. Your words mean something.
So, how do you take your thoughts and form them into a powerful speech that will change people’s lives? The content is up to you, but some helpful tips on how to present your thoughts are below…
- Create an outline: Be intentional about the points you want to make. The key points of your speech will keep you on track throughout the process.
- Your opening sets the tone: When setting up your speech, a funny story, a shocking statistic, or some other attention-grabbing introduction will pull in the crowd. If you ease into your talk, the audience may take time to get adjusted in their seats, find their coffee or a notebook, etc. What they will not be doing is paying attention and you risk losing them for the rest of the time.
- Present the way you speak: The way you speak is most likely very different from the way you write. Be sure to use conversational terms and contractions in your speech. It will flow much more naturally, and you will be more relatable to the audience.
- Add your personality: Do not be afraid to let your guard down and let your personality shine through as you speak. Humor and a little vulnerability can go a long way in connecting with the audience.
- Read aloud: As you are writing your speech, continually read it aloud to yourself to ensure it sounds the way you want. Reading in your head and speaking aloud can sound dramatically different.
- Carefully craft your story: Speeches should present a problem and offer the solution. It is why people are there to listen. You are meeting a need or answering a question. Before you get to the solution though, carefully set up what the problem is and why it needs a solution. What you say should be a clear process that offers relief.
- Simplify: When you have finished writing, go back through your words and simplify the concepts. Oftentimes we get caught up as we get excited to share our knowledge. It is easy to make presumptions about the audience’s knowledge level and lose them in the process. The use of clear and concise thoughts is imperative in communicating effectively.
- Do your research: Accuracy is crucial. This may be shocking (add sarcastic eye roll here) but there are some people who take great pleasure in pointing out flaws and inaccuracies. Stay ahead of them with a little research.
- Add visual aids: A video, an experiment, a prop, or some photos or slides can help keep your audience engaged and hopefully intrigued!
- Do not be self-indulgent: The speech is not about you. Even if you are discussing something you have created or discovered — remember it is not about you — it is about how you make the audience feel and what they can learn.
- Have clear takeaways: There should be no more than 2 or 3 clear and important action points that the audience can take home with them.
- Know your audience: A speech should be tailored specifically to the audience. That means, if you are speaking to a group of CEOs in New York City one day and recent college graduates in the Midwest the next day, you need to be able to adjust your presentation to speak specifically to those individual groups.
- Reinforce your points: It is difficult to find someone who listens to absolutely everything you say so make sure you repeat the important points to ensure they retain them after the audience walks out of the room.
- Silence can be an attention grabber: There may be a point in your speech where you feel you are hitting the audience with a lot of information. And, maybe they are drifting a bit. Make a strong or dramatic statement or ask a pointed question — then pause to bring them back.
- Tie it together: As mentioned above, there must be a solution to the problem you have presented. Tell a story or give a real-life application to tie up your points and make it memorable.
- Stop talking! In our current world of soundbites and social media, no one is used to sitting and listening for long periods of time. So keep it brief. Hit your points, charm the audience and say goodbye. Treat your speech as a blog instead of a research paper!
The two most important things to remember are to be yourself and to be confident in what you are saying. There is a reason someone trusted you to speak. The most engaging you is a confident and comfortable you!
If you or someone at your organization needs assistance or guidance in speechwriting, Infinity Concepts is here to help you reach your goals AND your audience. Contact Chief Growth Officer Darrell Law at Darrell@infinityconcepts.com or 724.733.1200 x26.
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