Keep it simple!
Leave the extensive PowerPoint presentations and piles of data at home. People really don’t remember much of what they hear, so your message has to be clear, focused and simple in order to grab – and keep – the audience’s attention. Concentrate on one main theme, and eliminate everything else. If you want people to have a tangible take-away or reminder of your speech, email or hand it out afterwards.
Make it relevant
Although you’re doing the talking, it’s not really about you. You’re only up there to give your views on the reason the audience is there in the first place. Why are they there? What are they commemorating or what problem are they trying to solve? Why should they care? If you answer those questions first, then they’ll want to know “how”? Then, and only then, talk about yourself or your area of expertise as it relates to the occasion or as a possible solution to the problem.
Tell a story
A good speech is really just a message – and three great stories that back it up. Stories that convey emotion, that are inspiring, moving or amusing, and that are real. The combination of storytelling backed up with concrete information is a powerful one. What’s more, these kinds of speeches are much easier to deliver because you can recall a story from memory, and tell it from the heart. A good speech is measured not by its style, length, or amount of applause, but by its effect on the audience. If yours is simple, relevant and evocative, it will move your listeners where you want them to go.
Public speaking doesn’t always have to be serious. Want to add humour to a speech or presentation – or would you just like a good laugh? See how Darren LeCroix, a former International World Champion of Public Speaking, rocks a meeting of Toastmasters, the international non-profit organisation dedicated to teaching public speaking skills. Or check out our Speeches and Presentations microsite.