Tips for Exciting Speeches
1. Open Hot, Close Hotter
To grab audience attention and be remembered,
start the presentation with a bang, not a limp,
"Thanks, it's nice to be here." The
first (and last) 30 seconds have the most impact
on the audience. Save any greetings and gratitude
until they've already grabbed the audience with
a powerful opening. And don't end with a whimper.
Remember that last words linger. Unfortunately,
many speakers close with, "Are there any
questions?" Wrong! Instead, say, "Before
I close, are there any questions?" Answer
them. Then close on a high note.
2. Get the Inside Scoop
Attendees at one of my seminars, "How to
Be a Coach to Your Client," want to know
how they can personalize and add excitement and
color to the speeches they craft for others. How,
they ask, can they get those invaluable inside
stories? I suggested they do what I do - interview
the speaker's client's colleagues and family members.
These people are familiar with the "stories"
the speaker often tells, stories that have already
been honed to what I call the "Hollywood
model" (characters, dialogue, dramatic lesson
learned). What insights and amusing stories can
they share? Advise your members to ask others
for input that can provide color and energy to
3. Try Inside-Out Speaking
Don't write speeches for people to read. Instead,
sit down with them, in person or on the phone,
and ask them questions. I do this, pulling out
of them their ideas, stories, life experiences,
philosophies, and examples through questions.
Then my job is to help them organize, wordsmith,
and deliver these comments with more drama.
Although the client and I often end up with a
script that can then be edited and tightened,
the words grow out of our conversations. I call
this "inside-out" speaking. My work
represents a cleaned-up conversation; one the
speaker is going to have with the audience. Of
course, a script is not a conversation, but if
it sounds conversational, it is far more appealing
and much easier to deliver directly to the audience
without reading it word for word. Emotional contact
is impossible without eye contact.
4. Provide Five Magic Moments
How are great speeches like classic Hollywood
movies? Movie promoters say that a successful
film has to have five magic moments for each viewer,
though not necessarily the same five. When it
does, people will talk about it and add enough
energy to a paid advertising campaign to make
it a hit.
Be sure each presentation has five great moments
- dramatic, humorous, profound, or poignant -
that the audience can relive in their minds later
and repeat to their friends.
5. Avoid Borrowed Stories
I urge you to create vivid, personal stories
for their presentations. Imagine how I once felt,
sitting in an audience of 18,000 people, listening
to Barbara Bush describe a great story she had
read in Chicken Soup for the Soul - my own story
which made the point, "What you do speaks
louder than what you say." (Yes, I know Ralph
Waldo Emerson said it first.) Did Barbara Bush
mention it was my story? No.
But even if she had mentioned my name, I think
she missed a huge opportunity with her speech.
Back then; I imagined her sitting in bed at the
White House, going through stacks of books with
a highlighter pen for things to talk about. Since
then, I've realized that a speech writer did the
research and wrote her words.
My point? I'm not upset she didn't credit me.
Just disappointed that someone with Barbara Bush's
incredible life experiences did not share them.
I am sure she had much more interesting recent
topics and perceptions than reporting on something
someone said to me many years ago. That's how
audiences will feel if your members repeat things
they've read instead of experienced.
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE is
a San Francisco-based executive speech coach,
sales trainer, and award-winning professional
speaker on Change, Customer Service, Promoting
Business, and Communication Skills. She is the
author of Get What You Want!, Make It, So You
Don't Have to Fake It!, and Past-President of
the National Speakers Association. She can be
reached at: PFripp@Fripp.com,
1-800 634-3035 or http://www.fripp.com