6 Tips for the Perfect Public Speech

6 Tips for the Perfect Public Speech

6 Tips for the Perfect Public Speech 1920 1080 The Conscious Professional

“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

Anyone can deliver a public speech. But no matter how well the speech is written, delivery is the thing that makes or breaks it. It requires practice, confidence and personality. True, some people have a real knack for it, but any speaker can be improved, no matter what base you are starting from.

Public speaking also comes in many forms. When I refer to public speech, I am not just talking about the big ones. The ones with optics and high stakes attached, so, conferences, presentations, commemorations, ceremonies and after-dinner speeches. Public speaking skills are also useful when addressing a room of colleagues or employees, running meetings, or even telling an anecdote over an important dinner.

If you are looking to improve your public speech skills, both in content and delivery, here are a few things that are useful to focus on.

1. Remember Who You’re Talking To

With public speaking, one size does not fit all. Ensure that your content is appropriate to the age, the gender, the sector and the interests of your audience. For example, it’s no good having a light-hearted speech full of 70’s references, when speaking to a room full of serious businesspeople in their 20s. Sure, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is, you must be conscious of who will be listening to you. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what they would like to hear. Connect with them by going to them. Don’t make them come to you.

2. Humour

There is always a place for humour. Even when in a serious situation, or something of a sombre occasion (funerals, for example), humour always works. It warms an audience to you. It relaxed them. It helps them to feel ‘safe’ in your hands.

Of course, you must be conscious of the humour being appropriate. Warming quips are great for a eulogy (I have used this myself on multiple occasions) … but slapstick with rubber chickens are not (generally speaking)!

3. Story

Having a sense of story, of a journey, is a really good idea with a speech. You could go in with a bunch of disconnected anecdotes, or wing it with a few nice paragraphs, but story, themes, and connectedness in a speech can transform a mediocre offering into a fantastic one. Audiences love momentum and to be taken on a wave, and having a clear structure is the way to do this.

4. Bold Start, Strong Finish

This ties into the story point. A soft opening is no good at all. Start strong. Make a statement of intent. Be conscious that, if you don’t grab an audience right away, they are much harder to get on your side. Audiences will generally decide, collectively, within a matter of seconds whether a speaker is worth connecting with or not. And as for your ending, well… think of a speech a bit like an essay. Whatever point you set out at the beginning must be returned to or resolved at the end. Conclude your journey with the incredible answer to your initial interesting question.

5. Personal Connection

Throwing personal stories or declaring a personal connection to the subject matter offers the public speech richness. Anyone can talk about anything given enough time and research, but pointing to a personal interest or experience with the subject and people you are trying to connect with helps an audience to trust and engage with you as the speaker. “Ah, they are one of us,” they may be tempted to think!

6. Less Is Usually More

Try not to indulge too much. A shorter speech full of quality content hits much harder than a mid-range waffle that goes on far longer than it is welcome. When you write your speech, make sure you edit. Use only your most potent material. Keep it short and fantastic. Audiences will thank you for it!


By Chris Thomson

 

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