As a former owner of a National Speakers Bureau, I have learned from several thousand professional speakers “How to Give a Great Speech.” Here are some techniques that I share with my coaching clients who want to become paid professional speakers or business professionals who want to deliver masterful presentations.
- Speak from the heart
Believe in what you have to say, or don’t say it. If you’re passionate about your subject the words will come. Speak about the fundamental beliefs you have about life, the simple truths that you believe in with all your heart.
- Write down two or three specific objectives you have for this speech
Ask yourself, ‘What do you want the audience to do as a result of your speech? ‘Think differently? Act differently? Do something differently?
- Write it out
When you give a speech be sure that people need to hear what you have to say. Then you need to understand it so well that you could explain it to an eight-year-old. You know, if you write it down enough times, then you will become familiar with it. Don’t read your speech if necessary, just read the lead sentences that you write on a three-by-five card.
- Be present
Connect with your audience in the first 60 seconds and then engage them throughout your speech. Once you get the audience rolling, be sure to embellish certain comments that you know are being well-received.
- Know your audience
Interview the program chair in advance to know who will be sitting in your audience and what they expect to hear from you. Are they men or women? What is the theme of the meeting or conference? What is their purpose in being there? Because that then becomes your purpose. Be sure to give your audiences not just what they want, but also what they need to hear.
- Room Setup
Be sure to check out the room where you will present your speech in advance. The worst thing that can happen to you is when they put the bright lights in your eyes and blackout the audience. If you go early to do your room check, you can tell them that you can’t give a speech with the audience in darkness. As a speaker, it is important that you see the faces in your audience.
- Is there a technique?
Try to be as natural as possible, just speak conversationally. Talk to your smaller audiences as if you were in their living room. Don’t look over their heads or beyond them. Speak directly to them. If you are addressing a crowd of several hundred or more people, look at one person, then another, then a third. But really look at them.
- “Ums” and “Ahs.”
“Ums” and “ahs” come from uncertainty. The key is to know your subject and what you want to say. And then practice, practice, practice. Use your mirror or give your speech to your friends and family. And above all, don’t try to remember exactly the same words.
- Personal Stories
Be sure to share your personal stories with the audience. People will learn from your vulnerability and your mishaps and will be only a step away from their own story. We delineate our thoughts visually and so your audience needs to see what they hear. You don’t have to be clever, just share your life with your audience. Remember you are looking for their trust and trying to help them. So just consider them to be your friends and inject humor wherever possible.
- Closing your speech
Develop an action plan. What do you want your audience to do now that they’ve heard your speech? Go around the room, and ask them to share one nugget they got. Ask them for one idea that they can use NOW. In two weeks. In one month. Be sure to summarize your speech and then give them a call to action.