Tony Hall asked:
When you come to the point of having to prepare a speech or presentation it can seem an incredibly daunting task. Clearly it is of upmost importance to prepare correctly and give the correct structure to your speech. Every good speech needs an opening that will grab everyone’s attention and make them sit up and listen. It must flow beautifully, so that you carry the audience along with you. And it should have an effective close to ensure that they each take away something truly meaningful. But to be a genuinely effective public speaker your talk must be original!
When you make a speech you really should be talking about a subject in which you are interested and that you understand. That way your knowledge and enthusiasm will shine through. But sadly it’s so easy to take short-cuts and to be lazy!
It’s amazing how many people will take what they believe to be the easy route and “borrow” someone else’s material. In fact there are books out there dedicated to providing speeches, such as those for the best man at a wedding. In some respects there’s nothing wrong with those books but the speeches should only really be used as a guide to the structure that your own speech might take.
Similarly you can get hold of books full of anecdotes. These tales are fine but you should use them sparingly to get the best effect. A speech full of other people’s anecdotes is not going to be a very good one. You may think using someone else’s work will make you into a successful speaker, but the way to come across as someone who is truly confident and convincing is to be original.
Doing so is actually very easy and will probably be far more effective than spending hours searching for something someone else has written that is suitable for you. It can also make the whole process of planning, preparing and then making your speech much more enjoyable and fulfilling.
So here are some ideas for being original:
1) Think about what you want to talk about and then name your topic specifically. That will help you to focus on the subject concerned.
2) Write down everything you can think of that you currently know about it. Grab plenty of paper and simply put down everything that comes to mind, with no editing at this stage. You can sort it later.
3) Identify where there are gaps in your knowledge and then set about doing some research. There are masses of resources at your disposal to help you to gather information. Books, magazines, newspapers, videos and DVDs will all provide you with a source of useful data. And, of course, surfing the web will open up boundless new opportunities for adding to your knowledge of your topic.
4) Then systematically sort through what you have written and identify the key ideas. Then put them into a logical sequence.
5) For each idea create a key point. Do a little editing and discard anything that you consider not to be totally relevant.
6) Work around each point adding in additional elements including statistics, illustrations and maybe one or two of those anecdotes. Give interest and value to each part.
7) Remember to create an opening for the speech relating to the topic. You need to grab your audience’s attention so a startling fact or a pertinent question is a good way to begin.
8) Equally, you need to end your speech effectively. So devise the close now so that you end with a call to action or a challenge for your audience to take away.
9) Then use the key points you identified to ensure you have a speech that flows and will hold your audience’s attention, carrying them from the opening to the close.
Talking about what you know in your own words will always be far more rewarding and will be a real boost to your confidence. It will enable you to present yourself as a knowledgeable and convincing speaker. And it will ensure that anyone in attendance will find your talk an enjoyable and beneficial experience.
So go on, be original!