Public speaking has always been, and always will be, one of the most effective ways of building influence, persuading others, and improving your personal and professional lives.
Becoming a more effective speaker is a goal we should all aspire to.
Here are some pieces of wisdom from others who have walked the path that I have found to be absolutely true.
1. They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. – Carl W. Buechner
Regardless of the whether the objective of your speech is to inspire, entertain, educate, persuade, or to simply inform, you won’t achieve it if you don’t create an emotional connection.
Remember, the best speeches you’ve ever heard weren’t made by professional speakers. They were made by your relatives and friends at weddings, funerals, birthdays and special occasions. They spoke from the heart and you loved them for it.
2. No one ever complains about a speech being too short. – Ira Hayes
Going over your allotted time is disrespectful to the organiser who has invited you to speak, the other speakers/performers whose stage time you steal, and ultimately your audience.
I’ve never heard anybody say “You know, I really wish that speaker went fifteen minutes over time so I could be late for the rest of the day.”
Time limits are there for a reason. Respect them.
3. Speakers who claim to be as cool as a cucumber are usually about as interesting as one. – Dale Carnegie
Most people who seek help with public speaking do so because of their lack of confidence. However the biggest problem with speaking is people who DON’T seek help because they don’t realise what they don’t know.
They are very pleased with their public speaking prowess but the audience is subject to a very different experience.
4. 90% of how the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform. – Somers White
I always advocate preparation and practise for an important presentation. Even for a more informal occasion such as a social event, you should at least give some thought to what you are going to say and have a basic outline in mind (or written down if you can’t rely on your memory).
With the exception of a gifted few, most of speakers I’ve seen try to ‘wing it’ have just ended up dribbling pointlessly and the ultimate message to the audience has been “I didn’t respect you enough to do any preparation for this.”
But there is one other important thing that comes before preparation and practice.
If you haven’t earned the right to speak about the topic through putting in some hard work to develop your knowledge and experience, you’re probably speaking BS and have no right to feel confident.
5. A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt – long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest. – Winston Churchill
I doubt that Winston would get away with saying that these days but the premise still holds true. You can create interest and buzz without exposing all your secrets or trying to account for every possible scenario.
While you might know some of the basic things your audience has in common, you can’t possibly know all of their individual situations.
So the idea is to serve the needs of the audience and give them just enough that they can go and adapt what you’ve said to their individual situation, or seek more information.
Got any more great tips? Feel free to get in touch and let me know.