The following speech guidance is here to help you a lot. (Even if it breaks its own rule!)
There is an apparent cliché that most things to do with public speaking are set to the power of three, but why is this?
Here are a 9 speech power of threes for you to consider.
Speech Guidance 1. You need a beginning, a middle and an end.
This may seem really obvious, but it is important that when you structure a speech, that you have some kind of an “arc” in mind to get you from beginning to end. You need to begin with an introduction, which more often than not gives you credibility to speak. Then you have the meat in the sandwich, the key information you wish to impart. Finally, you need a summation. Something that will remind listeners of the key points and leave people with something to remember your talk by.
Speech Guidance 2. Stand up, speak up then shut up!
This is a pretty blunt statement, but it actually means just what it says. If you waffle or do not structure what it is you wish to say, you will invariably break this rule. This is the clearest direction that can be given to any speaker and really applies to any kind of speech. From the best man at a wedding to a speaker at a symposium, do not outstay your welcome. The rather blunt statement “shut up”, not only refers to not outstaying your welcome but can also refer to important pauses which will be covered later. A thing to remember is that even the best attention span is normally limited to about 17 minutes.
Speech Guidance 3. Engage, enthuse and animate.
How do you engage your audience?The best way I have always found is to ask them questions, both rhetorical and otherwise. Make them part of your presentation, this has a habit of making them feel included as well as being more likely to make them feel enthused. If you are also naturally animated, and by this I do not mean bouncing all over the stage or walking backwards and forward in a metronomic fashion which will hypnotize everyone for all the wrong reasons, this will help hold people’s attention. However, only make gestures when called for. Express yourself with arm movements and gestures, but do them only when relevant. Nobody wants to be distracted by a windmill either.
Speech Guidance 4. Concise, passionate and most importantly relevant
Keep your information in as clear and concise a manor as possible. Do not overdo your sentences or give too much information. Deliver it in a passionate way. If you are passionate about something it is much easier for your audience to buy into what it is you have to say. However, you need to know who your audience are and tailor what you have to say to make sure that it is relevant.
Speech Guidance 5. Don’t patronize (or insult), better to self-deprecate and educate
Not patronizing or humiliating your audience is vital. The biggest way to turn off any audience is to treat them in an inappropriate way. This includes the telling of jokes. Humour is a really dangerous thing, if only because of the large possibility that many people do not share your sense of humour. If you are a comedian and your audience has paid to see you, they know what they are letting themselves in for and that is fine. However, forcing a comedian on an audience that is there for other reasons, invariably always falls flat. However, humour is often a great way to engage people. Using irony and being self-deprecating is often quite endearing and proves not only that you have a sense of humour, but it can very often warm an audience to you. Then try and tell them something they do not know. I appreciate that a crystal ball may be required here, but always try and give an audience some knowledge that they did not have before you started talking to them – or at very least remind them of something they may have forgotten.
Speech Guidance 6. Slow it down, lower it down, and then shut up!
As humans, research has proven that we are tuned into lower voices much better than higher ones. The great leaders of this world both male and female have generally had lower voices. As a human race, we are hard-wired to prefer lower and slightly slower speakers. Therefore regardless of how you naturally speak, if you have an important point that needs to be made, then slow down your speech, lower your voice as naturally as you can and then deliver. Then pause to allow what it is you have just said to sink in, before carrying on in your normal tone.
Speech Guidance 7. We won’t do it this way, we won’t even do it that way – we will do it LIKE THIS!
Many of you I am sure will have had the pleasure to hear Barack Obama speak. Whether you agree with his policies or with him personally nobody can deny that he is an exquisite orator, and clearly one of the best there is. He also has some pretty extraordinary speech writers working for him who understand the way he delivers a speech and this includes regularly using “the power of three technique” for making a point. This is where he would build up a situation with two lesser facts before banging home a result with a tremendous one. Very memorable and very effective.
Speech Guidance 8. People only ever remember 3 points – anymore and they start to forget the first.
I mentioned self-deprecation earlier. Well, I can only really remember the last thing I am told, so for goodness sake don’t give me a list of things. However, realistically 3 points are about the maximum most mere mortals can remember. So wherever possible try not to exceed 3 main points that you need people to take away as a message. (Unless you are going to provide a handout afterward)
(BTW this is considered a handout as I have clearly given more than 3 examples here!)
Speech Guidance 9. Practice, practice, practice
This may sound clichéd or even silly. It may sound like I am over-egging the point, but there really is no substitute for practice. Quite often when I write a speech. I may even write it out as many as three times. This will not only help me get the structure right, but it also will help me remember. So if necessary get in front of a mirror and practice, or record yourself so you can play back and see what does or doesn’t work, but above all whatever you do, practice.
Speech Guidance – Bonus. Where to practice practice, practice!
The most structured and safe environment to learn, enhance and to practice your skills as a speaker is by joining your local Toastmasters Inc. Club. These are found all over the world and whilst they have the same name and do have a slight link to the role of the traditional English Toastmaster that I am better known for, they are not the same thing.
Wherever you are in the world, to find your nearest club go to www.toastmasters.org
It will, without doubt, change your life, as you may not just make new friends, and improve your speaking ability, but you will almost definitely grow in confidence.
If you are London based and you would like to learn more about presentation and to grow in confidence then you can also contact me via my website www.haslerhillconsulting.co.uk
All guidance is given in an experiential manor and is tailored specifically to the student(s).
As a toastmaster and master of ceremonies, I have run numerous events where speakers have to present. Also being a presentation skills trainer, part of the services I offer to every organization is a presentation skills refresher, to make sure that all those speaking at their event have enhanced skills and confidence to give their best performance. Additionally, I run courses in presentation for those of all levels. For more information about the services I offer, simply phone me on 07773 229909 or email firstname.lastname@example.org