Words Have Power

Make your next speech a knockout

Barack Obama speech

If you need to make a speech, chances are it’s for something important. But whether it’s a special birthday or anniversary party, or you’ve been invited to talk at a TED session, you can use the same principles to write an engaging, interesting speech that people will remember.

President Obama gave some epic speeches during his time at the White House. And with a quick Google you’ll see how his team of presidential speechwriters made that possible.

What to do

KISS: Keep it simple, Sally (or Sam). If you go in for something complicated and lacking in interesting tid bits, you might as well put your feet up and let someone else do that job. It’ll be a yawn-fest with a lot of eye-rolling and people will be hot-footing it out of there before you can get your opening comments out.

Know your audience: If they’re there to hear about business modelling using AI, and you’re talking about the lifecycle of snails – you have a problem. Be sure about who they are, what they want to hear from you and, most importantly, the best way to communicate with them. If speeches are a regular gig for you, it’d be worth investing in some HBDI training.

Research: do your homework. Make sure you can back up any ideas or theories you’re proposing and answer the questions your audience wants to hear about.

Choose your ideas: What you want to do is choose three or four main points. Any more than that and your audience will struggle to keep up with everything you’re talking about, and they’ll drift off. You don’t want that. 

Write it like you’d say it: The easiest way to do this is to record yourself saying it and then transcribe it. Use contractions where possible (e.g. ‘you’re’ instead of ‘you are’) and use plain english. No fancy words – no matter how desperately you think they belong.

And I’ll say it again. Keep it simple.

"If they're there to hear about business modelling using AI, and you're talking about the lifecycle of snails - you have a problem."

What to remember

Remember these great tips from Forbes and you’ll be smashing out crowd-pleasers in no time:

  • Don’t waste the opening
  • Strike the right tone
  • Humanise yourself
  • Be memorable
  • Have a structure
  • Repeat yourself
  • Use transitions
  • Include theatrics
  • End strong
  • Keep it short
Microphones for a speech
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