Speeches must have a rhythm
Great speeches like a beautiful picture have many attributes in common; a strong opening, a compelling story, a magic moment and a memorable closing. They start strong. Some “break the ice” with humor. Others prefer a powerful statement. History has shown, the stronger your first impression, the easier it is to keep your audience’s attention from your beginning to the end.
- All speeches must have a rhythm to convey your message. Speakers should use a mix of short and long sentences to communicate that message.
- Clear and concise language makes it easier for your audience to understanding the story and go with the flow of the speech.
- All sentences should be short enough for delivery within one breath.
- The words used to communicate each sentence should be rich with imagery and emotion to take your audience on a journey into the heart of the story.
Total Body language matters as much as the spoken word. Use body language to move the story forward. Audiences can subconsciously notice even the smallest body movements that are not coordinated with the spoken word. Your smiles and eye contact can go a long way to convey your message. Speakers should practice the delivery of their first smile or first words to establish a connection with your audience. When audiences like you, they are more inclined to believe you.
Great speeches should all have a magic moment; a memorable event that recalls some detail of your speech. The positioning of your “Magic Moment” is also very important. It should be the highlight of your speech. It should appear to be natural and not over-rehearsed or disconnect to your message. Your speech should flow like a conversation with each sentence perfectly crafted for your audience. Nonverbal communication you receive from your audience should flow like a silent conversation between you and your audience.
Speakers should strive to allow their speech to feel like a personal invitation for each member of your audience to participate. It should capture their attention while validating your message with looks or smiles. If you can achieve all of these qualities while thoroughly entertaining your audience, you will have a great speech worthy of being delivered to audiences for all occasions.
Great speeches are not written – they are Rewritten!
Your Foundational Statement will often determine success or failure when writing your speech. That statement can be a short sentence or catchy phrase. It can be a humorous or provocative statement, shocking facts or rhetorical questions. Whatever you choose, it should make your audience think, “Wow! – That’s interesting, tell me more.
Most speeches generally have an introduction, a salutation, discussion, and conclusion. Your introduction should grab your audience’s immediate attention. It should clearly identify where you are taking your audience. You should also try to make your opening relevant to your audience. Audiences are always more willing to pay attention if they can relate to your subject matter. While a salutation is always optional, if done well with sincerity, it can help you make a better connection with your audience.
Next, you should go into what I call the Discussion phase of your speech. Here is where you give your audience reasons to buy into your point of view with facts and figures. Be the expert by presenting your material with natural excitement, and strategically placed humor. Establish your Foundational Statement. Tell a story to make your point or make your point by telling your story. Personalize your speech. Use vivid language and remember the rule of threes when qualifying your references. Once you are sure that you have made your point, don’t repeat yourself, move forward. Get to the Conclusion, keep moving forward, You can recall later.
Telegraph your conclusion to let your audience know you are closing. This can be done with a simple phrase – “My fellow Toastmasters” – “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Summarize the main points. Repeat your Foundational Statement. Recall what you told your audience in your introduction and discussion phases. Finally, you should leave your audience with a call to action. If you are sure that your closing will leave your audience with a burning desire to take some action in the minute of silence after you have concluded, STOP! you are done, however, remember great speeches are not written – they are rewritten. Now you must edit your speech until you have a tight final copy that is ready for delivery.
Goals in Writing are Dreams with Deadlines – Brian Tracy
Quotes strategically placed in stories can brighten speeches. Over the years, I have amassed a collection of small books with quotes which add value to the point of my stories. One of those books which I treasure is a thirty-two pager written by Brian Tracy entitled “Excerpts from The Treasury of Quotes”.
This book was given to me many years ago by a fellow Toastmaster. It contains one hundred and fifty quotes taken fresh from Brian Tracy’s journals, lectures, and audio recordings. Each quote relates to some aspect of everyday life. Some of the topics addressed are attitude, possibility thinking, belief, desire, decision, character, integrity, honesty, and goals to name just a few.
Quotes I often use in my everyday speaking which sometimes ends up in my speeches are – “Your attitude is an expression of your values beliefs and expectations” – “Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other” – “Integrity is the foundation upon which all other values are built” and – “Think before you act and then act decisively – Fortune favours the brave”. All valuable quotes that can brighten your stories
One word of caution, make sure to always give credit to the author of your quotes. To quote Brian Tracey – “Truthfulness is the foundation upon which all other values are built” – And finally one of my favorites Tracy quotes? “Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines”.
Start building your own library of little books with quotes that will not only brighten your everyday communication but will also be the brighteners in your speeches as you discover, the value of quotes.
Make Your Good Better And Your Better Your Best
A Toastmasters Journey
Public Speaking For All Occasions – From sun up to Sundown we communicate, some better than others. It is my hope that with this blog, we are able to raise an awareness to the importance of painting word pictures as we speak. Over time, this type of communication will become a natural part of your everyday communication. Come join me on a journey into the world of Visionary Communication.
Let us begin: A good place to start is by identifying your communication strengths as well as the areas you need to improve starting with your instrument – Your voice – have you discovered your tone of voice. Your pace, your pitch and the importance of silence in your delivery. Silence sends the message.
Next, it is important to define your communication goals. What you want to achieve and how you will know when you have achieved it. That’s when you move on to making each goal you have achieved permanent through practice.
- Recognize the elements of a basic speech structure -Starting and ending strong.
- Balance preparation and spontaneity in your delivery – Be natural – be you.
- Demonstrate self-confidence – Make your speech a kind of silent conversation.
- The ice-breaker worksheet is a good place to start – It is your roadmap to success.
The four elements of a good speech or story:
- Interesting topic ( Your Anchor)
- Opening – Strong -Direct-Positive
- Body (V1 V2 V3 *V=Vignette)
- Conclusion (Your Take Away Message)
Give your speech an opening, body, and conclusion to effectively communicate your overall purpose. When we communicate we must have a purpose. Also, we should begin to develop our own formula. For Example, a formula for an ice-breaker could be – Where I was – Where I am – Where I am heading. The purpose is to begin revealing yourself to your fellow members. You may want to share a little-known fact about your heritage or hobbies of yours. Conclude with a funny or interesting anecdote that relates to your desire to become a better speaker. Every Toastmaster’s journey begins with their first ice-breaker – a speech they will always remember even long after their journey has ended.
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