A Speech Is Never Just A Speech
“Ask not what your country can do for you…”
“Four score and seven years ago…”
“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
All of these quotes are well-known today — even though they were made decades or centuries ago. Why? Because they are unforgettable and significant lines from famous leaders (JFK, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King)? Yes, but more than that. The quotes have become forever a part of history because of the message and the meaning behind the words: They stirred people emotionally, and they inspired people to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Whether you a world leader, or a small business owner, isn’t that what we all want from a speech? To deliver a message that your audience will like, will remember, and possibly learn from and act upon?
What Audiences Want to Hear
We are judged by the company we keep and the words we speak. When we deliver a speech, it’s never ‘just’ a speech. It’s a message calibration. Your words are being measured against a standard by your audience, and that audience has changed over time.
People are inundated with messages from every device within their reach. From news updates to Twitter feeds, to Facebook posts, people have countless platforms to be both ‘poster and post-ee.’ So, if they are going to take time out of their busy schedule to listen to what you have to say, it should be remarkable. And real.
Writing a Real and Remarkable Speech
The content of any speech should be informative and entertaining. If you can inject humor (when appropriate) as part of your message, that can oftentimes help your audience enjoy the experience.
Keeping a speech ‘real’ – in both content and delivery – can be a challenge but an important one to master.
Here’s what every speech should do:
Tell a Story – It’s never enough to just share information. Audiences want to be moved by what you are saying – whether they know it or admit it – so tell them a story that will make them want to laugh, cry or empathize with you.
Engage the Audience – Connect with them by asking yourself why your audience would care about what you have to present. You should be able to answer your audience’s question “What’s in it for me?”
Give Examples – Your message will be forgotten if you don’t share the How or Why of your product, service or mission. People want to know what made you or your product succeed or fail – and try, try again. Tell them.
End with A Call to Action – Delivering an unforgettable speech is one thing. But getting your audience to do something after it’s over should be your ultimate goal. Give them something to do, someone to call, or somewhere to go afterwards to build upon your message.
Lastly, if you’ve conducted surveys or done some research on your topic, share it. But if you haven’t, admit it. Don’t try passing off something that you saw on the internet as your own summary. Audiences are much too smart these days and plugged in to know if what you’re saying is legitimate. They can check your facts in an instance WHILE you are speaking. The last thing you need is a Q&A session where an audience member calls you out for fake news.