When you have to give a speech, no matter what the occasion, what’s the first thing you do?
If you said, “Panic!”, you’re not alone.
The question is, why? What is so fearful about having to give a speech?
Let’s start with the basics. The first thing you need to do is write the speech. How hard is that? Here are a few comments I’ve heard recently.
“I want to sound like Steve Jobs, but I feel like Elmer Fudd.”
“I don’t know where to begin or how to organize my ideas.”
“I’m not funny. Nobody ever laughs at my jokes.”
“I don’t have a problem getting up to speak. I just don’t have time to write a speech!”
There’s a solution to all of these difficulties.
Want to sound like a speaker you admire? Do the research. Google, YouTube, TED Talks… the Internet is your best friend when it comes to watching how other speakers hold their audiences. Take a look at past speeches of people you admire and use them as role models. Do they talk in sound bites? How do they simplify complex ideas? Do they tell stories to illustrate their points? Keep them in mind as you prepare your speech. Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery; it’s also a great learning tool.
Don’t know how to begin your speech or organize your ideas? Again, look at speakers you admire. Do they start with a joke? Almost never. They do often begin with a story that illustrates the information that will follow. They give the premise of the talk right away, and then the three major points that back up or prove the premise. And they finish with a recap of the major proofs and an invitation to the audience to take action based on what they’ve learned. For a more detailed look at how to organize your speech, take a look at Part V: Basic Speech Elements in my book, Secrets of a Unique & Sexy Speaker (Balboa Press) where you’ll find detailed techniques for creating almost any speech. (www.marionclaire.com)
Think you’re not funny and no one will laugh at your jokes? Don’t tell any. Instead, tell stories. Talk to the audience as if you’re talking to a friend. There are many story techniques that will illustrate your points. Turn a laundry list of information into climbing a ladder and getting to the top, or running a race and being first to the finish line. Clarify the pros and cons of a premise by telling it as a dialogue between the two sides. Use the courtroom technique: be both prosecutor and witness, ask the key questions and answer them. You’d be surprised how much of your natural humor will come out because you’re focusing on being understood, making your message land, and not whether you’re saying it funny.
Don’t have time to write a speech? Get help from someone who does! Let a professional speechwriter take your ideas and make them sing. It’s amazing how easy it is to work with a pro who is skilled at writing the words you’d write if only you had the time. A professional speechwriter will make you sound exactly the way you want to sound while you’re busy taking care of the myriad other details of your business.
Speechwriting is not rocket science. It’s a learned skill, like any other.
Make it easy on yourself. Get help!