Do you memorize or internalize your speeches? Memorizing requires that you remember every word of your speech in a particular order. When you internalize, you remember the points, thoughts, and organization of your speech to arrive at your ultimate goal, your purpose, and your destination. You never start a journey without knowing your destination. As Yogi Berra is known to have said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you may end up somewhere else.” You should know where you are going before you start. When you prepare a speech, the first thing you should think about is what you will say last – why! Because your last words will always linger.
Your organization, plan, and purpose should be in focus as you start your speech. Your conclusion is your takeaway, the decisive factor, your final appeal to close the deal. When your preparation, plan, and purpose are clear to you, you are in a much better position to communicate your message to an audience. The more you know about your topic, the better you are prepared for the unexpected. No one can predict what will happen when you are on the platform; however, if you are intimately familiar with your topic, you can speak from the heart, which always makes a better connection with your audience. Know where you are heading and stay with the plan and remember, arriving at your destination with your audience is the goal.
After you have internalized your conclusion, your next step is to decide how you will start your speech. You should also decide how you will achieve your ultimate goal, winning and holding the attention of your audience. While it is impossible to predict the mood of the room you will inherit, it is wise to have an opening you can deliver with a bang or with just an audible whisper. Where you take your audience from that opening is what matters most. After you take ownership of the room and platform, lead your audience on your journey as a guide will. Make sure everyone is following along with you every step of the way. Read your audience as you take them along with you. Eye contact with your audience will tell how you are doing.
With the opening and closing of your speech clearly defined internally, logic should now be your guide. Your next step is to construct a bridge from your opening to the closing while making sure it is logical. The length and size of your bridge depend on the amount of speaking time allotted. Each section of your bridge should flow logically into the next. Assign a name for each transition. The name you assign will be your guide to delivering the presentation in the correct order, like milestones of the journey. Remembering the names of each section is now the roadmap you will follow to your destination.
Like any journey, expect the unexpected; however, when you are clear about where you are heading – if you have to make a detour, no one should be made aware. Repeat the last point before you went off course with emphasis. Do again, and again if you need more time to gather your thoughts, then get back on your path and continue with confidence. Smile and keep your secrets to yourself. Some speakers even use prepared statements for those unguarded moments. Get back on track and continue to make each of your points, thoughts, and vignettes fit seamlessly.
You should know when you have arrived at your destination. If you have made a connection with your audience, you should sense when you have made your point or sealed the deal. Keep your purpose and destination in mind, and you will know when it is time to go to your closing. After delivering your closing, be silent, stop, your mission is accomplished. Without preparation, a plan, and a purpose, the best plan is to forget giving the speech altogether. With a strong, well-prepared opening, closing, and the memorable names assigned to each section of your bridge, you will reach your destination successfully, if you don’t try to memorize. Internalize!