"Wow! That was an Outstanding Speech"
How often do you say that?
Not often I suspect, certainly not often enough. So many business presentations today are awful, dull and boring. In fact I often sit ther wondering why they even bothered to make the speech, because it achieved nothing except to give them a poor image. I can't promise to make you an outstanding speaker from reading this one article, but I can point you in the right direction. And if you like what you read - check out my Overcome Fear of Speaking ebook - which will provide a complete programme to become an outstanding speaker in 7 days or less
I learned my craft as a speaker a long time ago, and I have kept on learning and practicing it every day for the past 30 years. That’s the thing about any talent, you have to practice if you want excel. I was also lucky; I learned my craft in the days “BP” – Before PowerPoint. You might think today that PowerPoint makes it easier – not at all. PowerPoint in my experience is the reason why so many people in business have become utterly boring speakers and I have made it part of my life’s mission to change that - especially for women, for whom becoming an leaning to deliver an outstanding speech is even more important as a key to success.
First let’s get a definition sorted. What do I mean by an "Outstanding Speech?" Well I don’t mean that you have to be able get up in front of thousands of people and compete with Tony Robbins or Les Brown or Brian Tracy or any top level professional speaker. You don’t need to be anywhere near that good to rate as outstanding, you just need to stand out from the crowd, and as 90% of all business presentational are – how can I say this politely – mediocre, being outstanding is not so hard.
You have delivered an outstanding speech if the day after the speech:
Those don’t seem like tough objectives do they? But often I can’t remember the name of the speaker by the end of the next coffee break, and I never even got the message during the speech. The reason that most people fail to achieve these basics is that they never planned to in the first place, which is why simply by reading this article you are going to be streets ahead of them.
So that’s the goal – now let’s look at the three basic rules to achieve them.
Why do apparently confident, successful people get on stage and crumble into incomprehensibility? Oh you have done that too huh! Lack of self confidence is a speaker’s greatest challenge, and especially women. When I changed gender I started working more and more with women in business groups and I could not understand why so many women chose to sit down to present. The more I looked into this the more I realised that the social conditioning a women receives thoughout her life often totally undermines her self confidence and sense of being great at what she does. It’s one of the key reasons why women have a hard time competing with men at work, but it can be overcome especially if you learn to write and deliver an outstanding speech.
Self confidence is all about loving yourself. You see don't love yourself, if you don't respect yourself, if you aren't sure of how good you are at what you do then there is this subconscious message in your brain saying, “I don’t like who I am, so why should the audience?” That’s what causes you to start to panic – self doubt. So you need to erase the self doubt by replacing it with self love.
Step 1 – Tell yourself why you like yourself. When you get up every morning, go to a mirror, look yourself in the eye and say “I like myself because….” Tell yourself what you like about yourself, as many reasons as you can, and if you have to – LIE!!! Go say it "I like myself because I am an outstanding speaker." Convince yourself that you really are OK. You are worth listening to, you have value, your ideas can help people, you have earned to right to be confident in yourself.
Step 2 – Create a Wins Book. Get a scrap book and start collecting all the good feedback you can. Photocopy all your certificates, copies of reports from any event when you did good, testimonials from clients, friends, anyone who writes to you and says "Hey! That was great thank you, you have really helped me." Have you set up a new club – it’s a win. Lost 28 lbs at Weight Watchers - put the 4 silver sevens in your win book, together with an after picture. Delivered an outstanding speech, get a testimonial, ran a successful exhibition stand - get a picture. DO YOU GET THE PICTURE!! Create a book of all the positive and wonderful things that have happened in your life and keep it going - then before you have to speak - get the book out and read it.
Learn to love yourself and the audience will love you as well.
PowerPoint tends to make people lazy. We are all busy, but if you get out PowerPoint the day before the presentation, write your notes in the form of slides and then proceed to deliver them at the rate of one ever 30 seconds, reading most of them out, is it surprising that the audience is asleep by the end and can't remember a thing. And how can you expect the audience to respect you when you have shown them so little respect in the first place.
PowerPoint is great if, and that is a BIG IF, you have visuals and useful information that are best conveyed visually. A friend of mine Cathy O'Dowd was the first woman to climb Everest from both sides. She talks about teamwork and illustrates her outstanding speeches with stories of her experiences of teamwork under the duress of the life threatening conditions of climbing Everest. She uses lots of slides, mostly awe inspiring images of her expeditions as she takes the audience on a dangerous journey to top of the world. That is how to use PowerPoint - not lists of words and unreadable quotations.
So shut the laptop, write the speech then ask, “Does this speech need visuals, and is PowerPoint the best way to do that?” Perhaps there is a better way to convey the message. You will be amazed at the alternatives. Perhaps you can use a prop, or a volunteer from the audience, or give the audience a work sheet, or get people to do an exercise. There are so many ways to involve the audience creatively to get a message across that are a thousand times more outstanding than a PowerPoint slide.
Be creative with your visuals and involve the Audience.
From 30 years of acting, training and professional speaking I have boiled the key elements of an outstanding speech down to four - represented by the acronym PEPP.
Purpose - Set a clear purpose to the speech and let the audience know what it is up front.
This is the most important element in writing an outstanding speech and doing this keeps you focused on your single message. The audience can't take in more than one message anyway, because they will often be hearing lots of other things that day. Make it something they can remember, and repeat is over and over again in a variety of different ways so they don't forget it. Ask yourself this question.
“What do I want the audience to remember?”
If you can get a single message clear in their minds it will act as a trigger help them remember the entire speech later and remember what you asked them to do after the speech.
Which brings me to the second part of the purpose. Why are you doing this speech? What do you want out of it? What do you want the audience to do after the speech? Read your report, sign up for a newsletter, come to your exhibition stand, give you their business card, come to your shop, vote for you etc. Be clear about exactly what you want the audience to do, make sure that you tell them and then make it is easy for them to do it. If you need to give an incentive don’t hesitate. “Get a free ebook if you sign up for my newsletter”
Experience/Expertise - Speak from your experience and expertise - If you have not earned to the right to speak on the topic - don't speak.
Use no more than three of four points to support your message. Look at the letter E - One main down stroke for the main message and three horizontal lines for the suppporting points. We all like stories, we remember them easily and life stories introduce humour and drama into the talk. This helps you as well because it is difficult to forget your speech if it’s a story you lived through. 2000 years ago one of the worlds greatest speakers taught with stories that we still remember today - It doesn’t matter what religion you are I am sure you know some of those stories, they are so memorable.
Passion - Love your topic; be passionate about the topic and your desire to entertain the audience with it.
If the topic is not something you are passionate about, link it to something you are passionate about. Love the audience and they will love you back - the more passionate you are about the topic, the more memorable and entertaining your speech will be and the easier it is to deliver.
Performance -Remember that no matter what the topic or the occasion, when you speak - THIS IS SHOW BUSINESS.
If you are just going to read out your speech you might as well type it and send it. You have to give the audience more than they can get from reading - so have fun, involve the audience, let the power into your voice, be playful, use humour, become a storyteller, and remember that silence.........
.......is the speakers most powerful tool.
I know this is generalising but become a storyteller to reach women, present facts in a logical but entertaining way to reach men, and mix the styles so that you appeal to both and alienate neither. We all like humour, we all like to be entertained - but most of all most people love stories and remember them.
To become an outstanding speaker be a Storyteller with a Message.
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