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Post No.: 0678speech


Furrywisepuppy says:


Here are some tips if you’re preparing for a speech or presentation…


Presence is what actors/performers have that leaders also need. Leadership presence is the ability to connect with the hearts and minds of others in order to inspire them towards a desired outcome. It’s not only about how you look but what you do and how you do it.


Leaders need presence because, at its core, leadership is about the interaction, connection and relationship between a leader and the people he/she leads. A leader is anyone who tries to mobilise, grow, encourage, persuade, motivate or inspire a group towards obtaining a particular result. And a commanding presence empowers others.


As a presenter, leader or advisor in a change situation – your goal should be to inspire your audience towards a desired outcome i.e. your goal is to get them to essentially ‘breathe in’ your passion, energy and vision. By creating the possibility for people to take in these elements, your work will be made much easier because your audience will be more readily motivated to follow your lead towards implementing the desired change. Their drive and action will then come from within themselves too. This is much more powerful than extrinsic motivation, where your will is imposed on others to do something.


Care genuinely, otherwise let someone who genuinely cares take the lead. Self-centred, narcissistic charisma will eventually be found out. Remember that you’re speaking to inform your audience, not to show how smart you are – therefore all your decisions should hinge on what you can do to help them understand and relate with the issue at hand well. The focus should remain on your audience.


Be present, not pretentious. When presenting a speech, be in the present – your mind, body and emotions should all be on nothing else except for being there for your audience. Just before you get up on stage, pause and take a couple of deep breaths to get into this mindful state. Feel the feelings that you are feeling right now. Be completely in the moment and flexible enough to handle what may unexpectedly turn up in the moment.


Reach out, don’t look down upon. Be a relationship builder – listen and uncover common connections. When we discover our commonalities, we develop the power to collaborate and co-influence. Put yourself in their shoes to really feel what they feel when they speak to you. Listen to what’s being said rather than think of what you’re going to say next.


Be expressive, not impressive. Your complete body language and tone must be congruent with the content.


Be self-knowing, not self-absorbed. Know what you stand for and don’t be afraid to speak up for what you stand for.


What’s your mission and overall message – the purpose or focus of your speech? What’s the message you’re itching to share? Keep it simple, and keep any call to action SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timed).


What’s your objective? Who’s your audience and why are they here? What do they know about the subject and what are they looking for from you and why? What do you want them to do, think, feel or understand? What’s personally in it for them for taking the action you propose? What’s in it for you?


Never make your talk an abstract preachment(!) No one likes an unsolicited lecture or sermon. Talk about concrete cases you’ve observed and the fundamental truths you believe they illustrated. Use specific examples, quotes, anecdotes that exemplify your point, and facts that are stated vividly and interestingly. Convince people not by telling them outright what to believe but by proving to them via real examples and letting them come to the shared conclusions.


Never forget to think about the audience and what they want to know – the things that interest them. Ultimately any speech is for your audience. Then communicate from your head and heart to their heads and hearts. Woof!


Human-interest stories or angles are generally the best things to talk about with most audiences – the inside story of your own and other people’s lives, rather than lifeless technical or generic angles.


Convey your own views and experiences. An address is personal – it’s got to come from your own perspective and deep from your own heart. It’s got to include your own stories and reflections, observations, illustrations, desires, visions, thoughts, ideas and convictions borne from your own energies. Telling personal stories also helps you to connect with the hearts and minds of others and build trust. It gives others insights into you and makes you seem more relatable and authentic. Stories capture attention, are more memorable than plain facts or figures, and help the audience relate to the subject on a deeper level, which can motivate and inspire them more effectively. You can tell relevant stories about who you are, what made you who you are, or who we are, in order to teach a lesson, motivate action or change, or to change the perspective of your audience, for example.


Help your audience visualise what you’re saying by using metaphors and images (e.g. instead of just saying 300ml, tell them that it’s about the volume of a coffee mug, which is more memorable). Amaze and surprise with your facts – shock them if you must! If using quotes or another person’s material, credit them to increase your own credibility. Be honest – what are the facts and what are the opinions? Give reasons and/or evidence to support your views.


Be the master of your subject. Engage, immerse, live, breathe and brood with it ceaselessly. Know your subject inside out and from all angles – which means doing your homework. Your credentials come from your knowledge, experience, academic qualifications and passion for your subject.


Let your speech grow and refine with every odd moment you can. Research and planning is constant until the very last moment. Make notes then study and digest them. Ask yourself all of the possible questions concerning your talk. Take on all of the different perspectives and angles you can.


Research and gather more information than you’ll ever need, then pick the best stuff from it all. (Prepare perhaps twice as much material as you’re going to use.) This’ll give you confidence in the subject matter and therefore your speech. Having this ‘reserve’ knowledge means that time will run out before the material does. It’ll also hopefully mean no one will have an angle of attack that you haven’t got covered in your mind.


While researching your subject, examine what possible conclusions or solutions the facts elicit, then present what you think clearly and emphatically. And make sure you have only proven facts, not assumptions or unproven assertions (unless they’re stated as so). Therefore double-check every statement you may make.


But, overall, your speech must be able to be summarised within a few minutes or lines. Trying to cover too much inside a short time is a rookie error – better to cover a few points adequately than a lot poorly. Breeze over the less weighty points and give more emphasis on the weightier points. If you must cover a lot of ground then you must summarise all those points at the end.


A speech is a voyage with a purpose – it must always march forwardly with spirit. So be linear, don’t dart around – cover a sub-topic, finish it, then move on. Build and build to a fever pitch and end the whole speech on its climax! The route from start to end must therefore be planned.


Fully prepare your address. Feed your fluffy head and heart until you’re simply bursting to speak out about it all! Make your speech clear and definite – something that cannot remain unsaid; something that’ll leave a lasting impression on your audience!


In practice, a speech to a live audience needs to be ~85% as long as the intended time target. This means that you’ll have some leeway to relax, have fun and interact with the audience and not feel the need to rush to keep on time.


The preparation process for a speech typically involves the drafting of a coherent talk, the structuring of this material to optimise its clarity and motivational impact, working out how to best present and perform the material, and the rehearsals to memorise the material and to practise its delivery. A speech should be delivered or projected with confidence, and with the appropriate informal or grand style, emotional tone, rate, congruent gestures, movements and vocal variety. If you need to develop your confidence for public speaking, read Post No.: 0284.


Different contexts, genres, cultures and constraints mean that there’s no single form of successful speaking (e.g. televised and live speeches are different). Writing and speech, or the delivery when reading a script and when communicating a speech, are also very different. So always read your lines out loud to see if they sound right to the ear rather than look right on the page. A speech is still practised but has a minimal outline, is interactive, non-fixed and is more conversational – it’s not speaking at the audience but with the audience. It’s not a Hamlet performance that strictly follows a manuscript but a ‘communication’ performance that is flexible. (This can reduce nervousness for some because a fixed script has nowhere to go if the words are forgotten or if one’s place in the script is lost – public speaking only presents as much fear as speaking conversationally; only with more talking on your side and listening on theirs.)


A major difference between telling a pure story and giving a speech is that a pure story can be delivered so that the audience can join up the pieces for themselves (they choose their own adventure), whereas with a speech, you’re not giving the audience just a set of raw ingredients but a completed dish i.e. don’t leave it to your audience to figure out what it all means. Give your point of view and make sure they have the same frame of reference. The pieces of information mustn’t just be loosely floating about – they should be each tethered somewhere firmly to the ‘tree’ of your speech and always somehow tied to the core ‘trunk’ of your overall thesis. It’s not a mystery novel where the audience only figures out why you’ve said what you’ve said at the end – give an organised, logical talk that allows them to be active members in following the creation of the meaning that is contained in your speech.


‘Outlining’ is about preparing your speech in a hierarchical structure. It allows you to plan out a talk in a way that encourages extemporaneous speech when developing short-notice speeches, and to identify what ideas are more important than others when developing informative or persuasive speeches.


One possible speech outline is to state your facts, argue from them, then appeal for action. Another is to say ‘here is the situation that ought to be remedied’, ‘we ought to do this and that about the matter’, and ‘you ought to help because of these reasons’. Yet another is to secure interested attention, win confidence, share your facts and educate the audience regarding the merits of your proposition, then appeal to the motives that make them act.


Edit/cut out your material for relevance and impact. What’s the shortest time you can explain everything? Refine your sentences until they express what you mean completely, clearly and concisely.


Try to be original and fresh in expression, not only exact. Put a new slant on old material and/or deliver it in your own way. Avoid clichéd phrases, although if you’re like a dog with two tails then we could let sleeping dogs lie because every dog has its day…


Woof! A good talk doesn’t smack of too much effort, doesn’t feel too elaborate, staid or forced, so try to make yours feel casual, natural, spontaneous and inevitable – which can ironically require a lot of planning and practice!


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