At this time of year, when we're all celebrating many different holidays, we're often called upon to say a few words, or maybe more than a few, to express our thoughts and warm feelings toward our families, friends and colleagues. In order to make speaking to a large  crowd or a few close friends and family a happy experience, here are a few helpful, easy to follow secrets that experienced speakers use to entice and entertain their audiences.

  1. Know who you're going to speak to.  When you decide to go to an event, one of the factors that attracts you is the guest list.  There will be people there you'd definitely like to talk to.  Learn as much as you can about them before you go. Whether you ask a friend or research the Internet, knowing what interests the people that interest you gives you a good idea of what subjects to raise and which to avoid.   Nothing grabs attention faster than talking about something you like doing.
  2. Know what you want to achieve.  Your goal may be a simple exchange of business cards, an invitation to talk further on the phone, or to meet for lunch or dinner or golf or tennis. Knowing what result you want will enable you to focus what you say.  If he's a tennis buff, and you'd like to join him on the court, you'll steer the conversation toward sports and your mutual interest in tennis.  If you want a business meeting, you'll focus on the benefits he'll receive from talking further with you. It's easy to attract other people if you remember a simple acronym: W.I.I.F.T.  What's In It For Them?  It's not about you, it's always about them.   
  3. Before you say a word, know exactly what words you want to say because you've planned and rehearsed them ahead of time.  Practising what to say in advance is a technique successful people use to ensure they don't trip over their tongue or get flustered or say something they didn't mean at all.   Remember WIIFT... choose the exact words to show the benefits that connecting with you further will give them. 
  4. Breathe, smile and say your mantra.  In the moment before you speak, take a deep breath, put a welcoming smile on your face and, to yourself, say that short sentence that makes you feel happy, buoyant, confident, shoulders back, head high, ready to take on the world.  That's your mantra.  Mine is, "Okay, Marion, permit yourself to be delightful!" Makes you laugh?  Makes me laugh, too, and feel really good about myself.  I say it just before I speak. Works like a charm.  

      Whatever the event, not only do we want to look our best, we also want to say the right things to connect with people who may be important to us in the coming year.