Taming Your Verbal Clutter

Practice makes perfect – Practice also become permanent.

How do you tame your verbal clutter? Verbal clutter is the result when we use unnecessary filler words in our communication. We all use them subconsciously without realizing the impact they have on our presentations. They become a distraction, causing your message to be lost. Listeners tune you out when your message is cluttered with unnecessary fillers: (ahs, uh, em err), Interjections (and, well, but, so, like, you know), cliches, and repeated words. Verbal clutter is habit-forming. We use them primarily when we are unsure about what to say or what we should say next. In place of silence, we hesitate and fill the moment with verbal clutter, filler words.

Fixing bad habits perfected over time takes practice. First, you must be aware of your tendency to use fillers and when they occur. Adding silence to your vocabulary is a good first step. Get comfortable with silence. When you are on the speaking platform, practice treating silence with the same importance as the spoken word. If you are writing a speech, indicate silence with white spaces. In Toastmaster, we count the number of times speakers use fillers or interjections unnecessarily in their presentation. When your fillers and interjections counts are high, your clarity is low. The use of fillers is also a sign of nervousness or lack of preparation.

Observing punctuation marks when you are speaking is a practice all speakers should adopt. Just as we punctuate a written speech, speakers should be mindful of your verbal punctuation. A full stop can be a long or a pregnant pause – a comma, a quick break, or a short breather. Special care should be taken with the use of commas. They can change the meaning of a sentence if used stylistically to separate a sentence’s grammatical components. Care must be given to your verbal punctuation, written or spoken. Winston Churchill, one of the great orators of our century, was once given a speech to critique. He took one look at the script and said it was a bad speech. When asked why, Churchill said, “not enough white spaces.” White spaces are key indicators of how your presentation will sound when delivered.

Filler, interjections, and repeated words can be avoided by practicing how you deliver opening remarks – your first words matter. Practice making a statement or question, the first words out of your mouth. Add body language before you begin speaking. React physically before you respond verbally. A physical gesture could be a smile or facial expression to indicate your feelings to telegraph your verbal response. Use that physical reaction as a confidence builder to give yourself enough time to formulate a statement or question in response to the topic being addressed.

Building confidence comes with practice. Practice makes perfect – Practice also become permanent. Over time, your practices become part of your persona, especially when you are on the platform. Fillers, interjections, and repeated words will evaporate from your vocabulary, and the authentic you will begin to flourish as you tame your verbal clutter. Your confidence will increase whether you are on or off the platform. In the world of public speaking, less is more. Speak in short sentences. Control your breathing. Be at ease when you speak. When you are at ease, you will put your audience at ease. Reduce your usage of overused words like clearly, honestly, truly, and cliches. Observe your own habits, both the good and bad practices, and habits of other speakers. The more you look, the more you will see. Take corrective action, and your confidence will grow as you continue taming your verbal clutter.

Seasons Greetings to you and yours

The Dream:

The journey we all are on will have its peaks and valleys.

Are you following your Toastmasters dream or living it. Dr. Ralph Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters, didn’t only follow his Toastmasters dream, he lived it. That dream was to build a better world through better communication and better leadership. His inspiration was drawn from the belief that communication is a gift to be used by everyone for the good of all. Many who knew Dr. Smedley often said if you ever asked the doctor of humane letters – how can I become a better communicator or a better leader – He didn’t point you to places of higher learning. He pointed to your chest. You see, Dr. Smedley strongly promoted the principle of learning by doing and improving through the power of evaluations.

In 1903 after graduating from the Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, Dr. Smedley started his journey as a YMCA director. There he quickly observed the young men who stayed at his facility could not communicate effectively. I am sure some of you ladies might be thinking, tell us something women don’t already know. Dr. Smedley decided to take action to make a difference. He invited the young men who stayed at his facility to remain after dinner to participate in toasting each other. The participants took turns evaluating each other’s toast. The person who delivered the best toast at every gathering was declared the Toastmaster. Soon the gatherings began to grow. The young men who took part in the toasting sessions after dinner became known as members of the – After Dinner Club. Now in case you are wondering, that was not the humble beginnings of the Toastmasters we know today. Between 1903 and 1924, Dr. Smedley was transferred and promoted many times within the YMCA organization. Wherever he was posted, he started a new – After Dinner Clubs. Sadly, each time he was transferred to another facility, the clubs fell apart.

Undaunted, he continued to not only follow his dream but to live it. He emphasized the power of simplicity, building a better society made up of individuals functioning in small groups to enhance their lives and the lives of others. In 1915, Dr. Smedley was the director at the YMCA in San Jose. There he started a club that again failed upon his departure. Finally, in 1924 he formed club number one in Santa Ana to officially start Toastmasters. In 1932 the federation was incorporated as Toastmasters International, following a club’s chartering in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. By 1941 Dr. Smedley realized Toastmasters needed full-time attention. He resigned from the YMCA that year to dedicate the rest of his life to make his dream of building a better world through better communication and better leadership a reality and continued to lead Toastmasters until his passing at age 87 in 1965.

Dr. Smedley’s home club was the Smedley Chapter number one club, which exists today as a testimony to the gift he left us all. The Toastmasters journey is a long and winding road for all who seek to share the gift of better communication and better leadership. If you were to visit club number one, you would see an empty chair at the front of the room. That chair serves as a reminder that the journey we all are on will have its peaks and valleys. Today, Toastmasters is known as a leader in the world of Communication and Leadership. The Toastmasters organization has grown to over sixteen thousand clubs in one hundred and forty-five countries. Membership is now over three hundred and sixty-four thousand and growing. The dream is now ours to continue. If we follow the dream and live the dream as Dr. Smedley did, that dream will become a reality one day.

Watch Your Ps & Qs

There are things we didn’t learn on Sesame Street.

In your wonder years, when we all wondered about everything and cared about nothing, did you ever wonder what you should do when you were told to watch your P’s & Q’s? Did you? In case you are still wondering, that was a question. If I did, it was NFL – not for long. I knew I had to watch my mouth, my words, and my language. And if I was a little hard of hearing, I got the look. Do you remember the look from hell that sent chills up your spine? I still remember those times as if they were yesterday. Still those were happy, happy days.

It did take some of us a little time to figure out the true value of the letters P & Q. There are things we didn’t learn on Sesame Street. So you decided to make your first big purchase unsupervised – and brought home the green lemon, still sitting in your driveway. You watched your P; the price and ignored the Q; quality. Now you know good things are not always cheap, and cheap things are not always good. To drown in your sorrows, you drag yourself down to your nearby tavern and again ignored your P’s and Q’s, your pints and quarts. The next day you awaken with a headache and a hangover the size of Texas. And although you promised never to touch another pint and quart in your life, as soon as that hangover was over, so to was that promise.

Later in life, as I began to take an interest in public speaking, I returned to Sesame Street and started watching my P’s and Q’s differently. I began watching my primacy and quantity – pace and quickness- pauses and quietness – I began realizing that by watching your P’s and Q’s, you are watching your manner, choice of words, language, and conduct. Do you pay attention to your P’s & Q’s when you are on the speaking platform?

Primacy is your primary opening statement. Don’t waste that time with pleasantries. Forget that P and get to the point; what is most important to your audience and your speech? The related Q to that P, primacy is quantity – How much information you should give your audience in your opening. How much is enough to prime your audience for what is to come? Your opening is your prime time. As World Champion speaker Craig Valentine has often said – “When you squeeze too much content in, you will squeeze your audience out.” In your opening, watch your primacy and quantity.

Pace and Quickness are also important as you deliver your speech. Whenever I take a ride on a local train line, I am reminded how to approach pace and quickness when speaking on the platform. The pace of the local train varies, making measured stops along the way. There is no rush. Each stop is identified then, the pace quickens for a while again. The process is then repeated over and over until you get to the end of the line. Don’t take the express. The express will often makes the first stop long after the first five to seven minutes. Before your next speech, take a ride on the local line and enjoy the ride. And you will learn a thing or two about pace and quickness.

When you are on the speaking platform, never pause just because, always pause for a cause. And always remember this golden rule,when you pause never to look up to the heavens while pausing. That’s a dead giveaway you’re lost. Your silence should also be delivered with the same passion as your most powerful line. A pause should not be like a silent um. Make every pause count. Do you know, there is a difference between pausing and being quiet? When you are being quiet, you should quiet your entire body. Quiet your hands, feet, and even your eyes. Quiet them before and after your power lines. Quietness creates the moment – Silence sends the message. If you keep moving while you are pausing, the message is lost.

Try adding many more valuable P’s and Q’s of your own. They will help you advance as a speaker. Word of caution, don’t ever take to the speaking platform after you have had a few pints and quarts. If you do, you will for sure have trouble watching your mouth, words, and language. And most likely, your speaking career will be NFL – Not for Long – all because, you didn’t watch your P’s and Q’s.

Making Your Speech a Winner

Every speech should have a magic moment!

How do you make your speech a winner? Follow these tips, and your next speech will be remembered as one for the ages. It’s not all about you; it’s about what you deliver to make your speech a winner. 

Your Topic Selection: The topic you choose can decide your final placement in any competition. While you should choose a topic you are passionate about, connecting with your audience should be your goal. If your presentation is about you, your success and failures, remember your redemption is always of more interest to your audience. Make sure your speech has some universal appeal. Your challenge is to make a connection with your audience through personal stories and personal, real-life events. Your presentation should not be an act. Use persuasion and the spoken word to keep your audience engaged. 

Speech Purpose: Define the purpose of your speech early in your presentation. Ask yourself, am I speaking to INFORM-ENTERTAIN-PERSUADE-MOTIVATE. What are the takeaways for your audience – Your sound bytes and catchy phrases. 

Delivery: Don’t Tell Them–Show Them-Take Them. Be descriptive – Use word pictures to convey your message. A picture can paint a thousand words. Be concise but clear – Every unanswered question becomes a distraction. Practice your personal stories and anecdotes so that they don’t sound rehearsed-Keep it real.

Timing: Write a 6-minute Speech and Deliver it in . Find Your Speaking Rate.Calculate your average speaking rate-Men average 125 Women 150. The average number of words in your speech should be between 700 to 750 words. Use single-syllable words. What is your Magic Moment? Every speech should have a magic moment. The moment that makes your speech memorable.

Brainstorm: Once you have decided what your speech will be about, the next step is to begin writing. Like a faucet, let it all flow -the – who – what – where – why – write it all down. An excellent way to begin the speech-writing process is by brainstorming. Write down everything you could find about your topic. Keep writing until you have much more material than you will have time to include in your speech. The next step is to begin testing to see what you should keep or throw away. Keep what adds to your overall goal, keeping in mind the composition of your audience. 

Writing The Speech:Start with an outline that will provide you with a structure for your speech. Most speeches have an introduction, a salutation, discussion, and a conclusion. Your introduction should grab your audience’s attention. Your introduction can be humorous, a provocative statement, shocking facts, or a rhetorical question. Whatever you choose, it should make your audience think, “Wow! – That’s interesting-tell me more. Remember, winning speeches are not written – they are rewritten. Edit until you have a tight copy to practice. 

Identify Your Topic: With a sentence or two, identify where you are going with your topic. Make your opening relevant to your audience. Your audience is always more willing to pay attention if your audience can relate to your subject matter.  Discussion: Here is where you give your audience reasons to buy into your point of view. With facts, figures and confidence provide proof that you know what you are talking about – Be the expert by presenting your material with natural excitement and strategically placed humor. Take risks you have tested and carefully vetted. Organize your points. Tell personal stories.

Conclusion: Telegraph your conclusion. Let your audience know you are closing with a simple phrase – “My fellow Toastmasters” – “Ladies and Gentlemen.” Summarize the main points of your speech. If you had a “foundational statement” during the discussion portion of the address, repeat it. Callback, what you told your audience in the introduction and body of the speech. Leave your audience with a call to action. Close the deal. What’s the lasting impression you wish to leave with your audience. If your audience has a burning desire to take some action or change the world at the end of your presentation, you have hit your mark. Follow these tips, for you and your speech to be a winner. 

The Photographer or Artist

Anyone can take a picture. However, it takes an Artist to make a picture.

The Photographers and Artist have a lot in common; however, they see things quite differently. The Photographer sees things as they are. The Artist sees things from their audience’s perspective. The Photographer’s view to some is considered to be self-serving. The Artist sees things as you; the audience would like it to be. Hence, we should strive to be an Artist when we are on the platform. Anyone can take a picture. However, it takes an Artist to make a picture. The question is therefore, which one are you aspiring to be like when you are on the platform – Do you want to be like The Photographer or Artist?

While all speakers begin like the Photographers, a speaker’s goal should be to become an Artist. Photographer’s work depends significantly on the quality of their gear. All the Artist needs is vision, experience, and confidence. The great speakers never surrender their pen to satisfy their audience expectations. They are original in their thinking. While working with Derek Walcott in my early theater years, I admired how he tirelessly stressed what it takes to be an original. He firmly believed that you could not make it as an Artist without taking risks. As a speaker, very early I chose not to settle for being one of the many imitators. Imitations may get a second look. However, originals take you to places only where your imagination would ever dare to go.

Finding your voice as an Artist takes courage, conviction, and a commitment to being honest. Be true to your beliefs, even when there is a cost. In 2007 I attended a coaching session. His advice that we should never comment on something someone cannot change stuck with me. Sometimes it is best to let them figure it out. Being liked as a speaker has its benefits, but audiences also love listening to speakers they respect. The comments and feedback of the respected are often concisely packaged with wisdom that speaks volumes. Mark Brown immediately come to mind. He is a speaker coaches whose comments may sound abstract at first, but you realize they are the Artist’s teachings that make you get the picture over time.

Speakers often ask, can someone change from being like the Photographer to become more like an Artist? Indeed, they all can, but they cannot be forced or coached into making that switch. It all depends on who you want to become as a speaker. For starters, the change begins with a commitment to being observant. You should be willing to step outside of our comfort zone to see things differently. It would help if you are also more probing about the events you encounter in your daily life. Practice focusing on only one thing at a time and share your observations with friends and family. Call that sharing storytelling time. Get off the treadmill of life and observe the many exciting events that often pass by silently. They are the stories that pluck the strings of our emotions.

An excellent coach also advised me years ago to document my related emotions when I capture events in writing. I still follow that advice. He also suggested that while perfection is impossible, excellence is always good enough. The first step is to write it all down. Just like a photographer, you must first capture the moment and the emotion. Later, that experience can be re-written. It is in the re-writing, you will take what you got initially to become better. In your re-writing, you should strive to develop the picture that is relatable to your audience and not just The Photographer in you. How you choose to build on what you captured initially over time determines if you will be known as another one of the millions of Photographers on the platform, or if you are on your way to becoming known in the speaking world as The Artist

The Enemy Within

Make the Enemy of your Enemy, your friend.

The fear of the unknown causes many people to avoid speaking Public Speaking. Some see the audience as the Enemy when in fact, it is the “Enemy Within” that must be faced and defeated. It is the voices in our heads screaming, “you are going to make a fool of yourself, shut up!” that is the real Enemy. Audiences don’t root for you to fail. They listen and respond to what they saw, heard, and felt. Silence those voices of doom and gloom, and you will discover it is the “Enemy Within” that was preventing you from realizing your public speaking dreams. We all have unique stories to tell. Improvement and not perfection should be your goal. Even some of the best speakers known to us all will be the first to say “in Public Speaking, perfection does not exist.” Some may see perfection in a Picasso, while others may not. We will never know the unknown until we try, fail and try again. Sometimes you will succeed, sometimes you will fail. However, it is the lessons learned from your failure that will significantly exceed what you have achieved from your successes.

The first step to conquering your fear of public speaking is to embrace your fears. Make the Enemy of your Enemy, your friend. It is an ancient proverb that suggests, two parties can and should work against a common enemy. The common Enemy, the voices in your head you must silence. Those voices will never completely go away even when you have exceeded your expectations. Listen carefully to the feedback you receive as new voices emerge to help you on your journey. Mistakes will be made but not repeated. Speak to the smiling, friendly faces. They will boost your confidence and give you the assurance your audience is rooting for you to succeed. Read their faces like you are reading a book. Seek out those audience members responding to your message with a nod, a smile as you embrace the moment. Respond with your smiles and a twinkle in your eyes as you make your connection with words that matter.

Public Speaking requires that you have something to say. It is a requirement. You should also be able to anticipate how your audience might react after they have heard what you had to say. Choose your words carefully and know what you are targeting with your words. At times you will speak to the head. There are times you will talk to the heart, In all cases, narrowed your message down to a sentence consisting of no more than five to seven words. That sentence will anchor your message. It is also your go-to sentence if you should ever get lost for words. Yes, that happens not to some, but to us all even when we are on the platform. When every word you speak has a purpose – when every story you tell has the power to change lives – when the voices in your heart replace the voices in your head – Your authentic voice will be heard, and your presence will be felt.

Are you ready to accept the challenges of being a Public Speaker? As you begin to develop a style of your own, you will observe changes in those same negative voices you once heard. They become friendlier and may even start to sound like your best friend. That is when you must be careful. Taking your audiences for granted is one of the biggest mistakes many speakers make. All audiences are not the same. Prepare for each audience diligently and differently. The three P’s of Public Speaking becomes magnified each time you step on the platform. Your three P’s? – Preparation, Practice, and Presentation. Each time you speak, the expectations become greater than your last appearance. Your new voices from within must now emerge. As you speak, think about the six emotions that will make new connections with your audiences. Be happy, be sad, be surprised, be angry, add fear and even disgust to your speaking, and with time and practice, you too could become best friends with the Enemy Within.

Communicating with Empathy

When both are listening, both are connecting.

Communicating with empathy is a skill all speakers must develop to connect with their audiences. Some may ask how you do that when you are on the platform. You observe your audiences’ body language. We all have heard these words of wisdom by Ralph Waldo Emmerson repeatedly: “Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.” That statement goes both ways. Studies show that your words account for only 7% of the message we convey. The remaining 93% is non-verbal. What about the non-verbal responses you are receiving from your audience. Should you ignore them? No! Communicating with empathy is crucial; whether you are the speaker or listener, when both are listening, both are connecting.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feeling of others. Reading your listener’s reactions does not mean your audience will agree with everything you are communicating. Your presentation is your point of view. You can show empathy by showing that you care, and you are willing to understand why your audience may feel a particular way when you sense agreement or disagreement. Granted, you are not going to make significant changes to your speech when you are on the platform; however, if you take a moment to acknowledge your audience’s reaction, they are more inclined to connect with you. When you sense disagreement, you can show compassion or use eye contact to maintain your connection.

Your audience responses are usually nonverbal; however, a smile or a questioning look will often alert you to the fact that you may have made a connection or have raised a question in the minds of your audience. All unanswered questions are distractions. Put yourself in your listener’s shoes for just a moment. Listeners want to understand what the speaker is communicating. They may have silently verbalized what they have just heard. It is only natural for listeners to respond in a manner that shows agreement or disagreement with the speaker. The speakers who tune into their audience reactions and responses will usually make a connection. Those speakers also practice their formula for maintaining that connection with their audience.

Regardless of how strange your audience responses may appear, it is wise to believe that they will always have a rational explanation for their reaction. Go with the flow as you try to understand their frame of reference. Understanding is an essential first step, especially when dealing with difficult topics. By letting the listener express their deepest emotions, you will most likely understand their frame of reference. As is often said, seek to understand, if you wish to be understood. How you choose to frame your reaction can also make all the difference in defusing disagreements when you are on the platform.

Some speakers handle strong emotions with success by deflecting their feelings. The practice being counter-intuitive. They turn right when you are expecting them to go left. That move can even generate a bit of humor at times. Observe and acknowledge the body language you are receiving as you speak. Make small adjustments as you deliver your presentation. Be in the moment. Maintaining a connection with your audience will determine your success or failure on the platform. When you can make everyone feel special – when you can make people listen and know that you care – when you are present, you are communicating with empathy.

Communicating Effectively

Silence sends the message.

20190423_144540Effective communication depends on the development of your speaking and listening skills. We speak to be heard, understood, and to be repeated when communicating. However, when the message sent is not the message received, we seldom focus on if the listener was listening effectively. Effective communication is sharing information in a manner that the listener understands what the speaker is saying. It also depends not only on what is said but also on what’s heard. What is heard may not be the result of how what was said but more about well we listen. We can significantly improve our communication skills when we are conscious of how we communicate as the speaker as well as the listener.

The first question we should ask ourselves is how present we are – when we are the listener. As the listener, do we impress upon the speaker we are ready to tune in to their message? Do we assure the speaker that they have our undivided attention? When speakers are on the platform, they can emphasize the importance of receiving the audience’s attention by patiently waiting in silence before delivering their first words. Body language will tell you when your audience is ready with high expectations and are prepared to listen. And when you begin speaking, the onus is on you to fulfill their expectations by continuously reading their active or silent responses to let you know how what you are communicating is being heard and received.

How you convey your message will determine your success or failure on or off the platform. It is not what you say; it is also how it is said. The body language of the listener will tell if they understand what they are hearing. Their smiles or icey steers will make you realize if your listeners are uncomfortable with what you are delivering. As you speak, you must read your audience’s emotional responses. Their agreement sometimes takes place silently. When communication is being conducted face to face silence, should not be regarded as an opportunity to butt in quickly. Active listening requires that you wait your turn to make an appropriate response at the right time. When you are the listener, whether the speaker is on or off the platform, let your speaker pause. Silence sends the message.

Speakers and listeners can significantly improve their communication by developing good habits and correcting bad practices. The best place to start is by observing how you communicate at home. Focus on reading the body language you are receiving as you speak. Resist trying to begin speaking before you have your audience’s undivided attention. Be clear about what you heard before attempting to respond and to be understood. Use that moment of silence to ask your audience before you begin speaking, are prepared to start listening? And once you are sure that you, the speaker and listener, have established a connection. The messages you send will be messages received, and both speaker and listener are now well on a path to communicating effectively.

What is Your Purpose

The Four Basic Classifications of Purpose


fb_img_1573652958802Often, it is said when you speak from your heart, the world will listen. However, whether you are on or off the platform, you must have a purpose before you begin speaking. If you don’t have a purpose, you don’t have a speech. You may have received that bit of wisdom many moons ago from your parents when you were taught; it is best to say nothing if you have nothing to say. Speaking; public or private, all boils down to this simple question, what is your purpose – Is your intention to Inform, Inspire, Persuade, or Entertain? While you can achieve all four of those goals in a single presentation, one of those four basic classifications of purpose should be your primary focus. 

The Four Basic Classifications of Purpose are To:

1. Inform or Instruct – This is a skill mastered by many teachers seeking to unveil the mysteries of life. Legislators, politicians, and advocates also inform when lobbying to win the votes of candidates. They all speak to inform or instruct when presenting facts, figures, and data. When presenting data, facts, and figures, if your focus is on “speaking to inform,” you will achieve your objectives.  

2. Stimulate or Inspire. Preachers are experts at being inspirational. When your purpose is to stimulate or inspire others to come with you to the promised land, that’s quite a tall order. Exciting and inspiring your audience may also take some teaching and quite a lot of preaching. But finding that right balance is most important. Remember, you are speaking more to the heart than the head. First, speak to the heart, and the head will follow.   

3. Persuade or Convince. All speaking is selling. You may be selling a product, idea, or speech. Selling requires the skills of a salesperson. Many use the AIDA formula. A-attention – I-interest D-desire and A-action. Salespersons don’t just try to sell you their product. They sell you how that item will make you feel or how it will improve your lifestyle. They sell the new car smell, that modern look or a bigger house, although their primary focus is your pocketbook and closing the sale. 

4. Entertain or AmuseThe most difficult of the four. Humor is a double-edged sword. Humor can damage your purpose if your primary focus is to Instruct, Inspire, or Convince. When your sole purpose for being on the platform is to amuse or entertain, you can add some teaching, preaching, or persuading. However, if your primary focus is on amusing and entertaining your audience, you would achieve your purpose when you focus on humor. You don’t have to be a comedian. Writing to amuse or entertain is a skill mastered by few, but admired by many. 

As you can see, all four of the classifications are interrelated, but your primary purpose must be obvious to your audience. The trick is to find that perfect balance when using all four in a presentation. No one wants to be schooled, persuaded, or even entertained for the entire duration of a speech. Audiences enjoy being treated to your use of language as you deliver your message – When your reason for being on the platform is evident. When you are sure you will convince your audience to take some action or make changes to their life or the lives of others after hearing you speak, your talk or speech will achieve the first requirement of speaking in public – your purpose. And whether you are on off the platform, if you speak from your heart, the world will listen.

  

Concluding Like The Masters

Churchill, King, Regan Kennedy, and their famous speechwriters.

20180621_214212The great orators and their speechwriters all used words of wisdom and quotes to highlight their POV – Point of View and to complement their speeches. They all quote the good book, for it is written. Churchill, King, Regan, Kennedy, all referenced the Psalms, Proverbs, and their personal stories that became statements or phrases wordy of being repeated. Great speakers speak to be heard, to be remembered, and to be repeated. Their opening remarks are direct and bold. However, it is in their closings; they appealed to the emotions of everyone, rallying their troops and delivering words of wisdom that continue to linger in the hearts and minds of audiences long after their applause.

Endings are your final opportunity to leave your audience with a lasting impression of your presentation and you, the speaker. Last words linger. It is for that reason, I strongly recommend you develop your powerful endings just as the great ones did. When you use a quote or your words of wisdom associated with the great orators, you sometimes shift the power and focus away from you, the speaker, tothe masters. It is wise to quickly refocus your audience with a power statement of your own. Many of your best endings will often come to you from your personal stories. No one can relate your stories better than you, even when you struggle emotionally to find the right words. In your words and wisdom, someone will always find the power in your truth.

The process of closing requires as much attention and planning as your opening. Why try to be Columbus. Learn from the great ones, but retain the power of the moment. The moment is yours. The passion and relationships you built with that audience are in your hands. If you choose to use the words of wisdom of one the masters, add your personal touch. Always remember, it is much more profound to close with one of your anecdotes or power statements than theirs. Give your closing the attention it deserves. Avoid ending similar to, in conclusion – Finally, That’s all I have or, the dreaded – Oops! I have just run out of time. Closings work best when you telegraph to the audience a sense of closure, and you are wrapping things up. You are now adding the bow to your gift – the speech – to the audience.

Signal to your audience, you are in wrapup mode by summarizing your main points. Make a call to action – ask a rhetorical question or a series of questions – build the energy and tension in the room – add drama to your closing remarks. Refer to a power statement you made in your opening if you had one. You are at that point of your talk where you must speak to the hearts and minds of your audience. When your closing inspires your audience to repeat your words, repeat your anecdotes, and repeat your unique sayings, your closing will linger to leave a lasting impression on the lives of your audience. Develop and use your words of wisdom and quotes with pride, hope, and love. And who knows; someday you will be quoted for your own memorable words of wisdom like the great orators of all times – Churchill, King, Regan Kennedy, and their famous speechwriters.