Have a speech to write? Struggling to figure out what to say to your intended audience? The last time I covered public speaking with Beth Gibson, twenty-year communications veteran, we discussed the importance of preparing for your audience to calm your nerves and keep you focused.
“Knowing your audience is a key step in preparing for a speech,” Gibson says. “What are their age ranges, work backgrounds, knowledge levels, political orientations, or special concerns?”
Once you understand who you will be speaking to, it’s time to write that speech.
1. Determine your “TIS.”
“First, determine your Topic, Importance, Speaker (TIS),” says Gibson.
By topic, Gibson means what you plan to say to the audience and what you want them to do with this information. Based on what you’ve learned about your attendees in you preparedness phase, what do you think they’ll find most interesting?
Next, consider the Importance of what you want to say. Why should your audience listen?
“Will your audience become healthier, wealthier or wiser? These are questions you need to be able to answer yourself as you craft your words,” explains Gibson.
The “Speaker” portion of this equation is YOU.
“You need to think about why YOU are qualified to share this information,” she said. “Use the bio you crafted early on to send to the inviter to establish your qualifications with the audience before you even begin to speak.”
2. Wow your audience with a strong opening.
Remember, you’re following that amazing bio you crafted earlier, so this part needs to be on point!
“In your opening, you want to throw out a welcome mat to your listeners—put them at ease and reduce their resistance,” Gibson says. “Start by addressing them with the word YOU.”
Gibson also emphasizes the importance of drawing listeners with a story, a quote, a surprising statistic, an observation or an allusion.
“A `what most people don’t know’ quote usually works,” she says.
3. Organize simply.
Gibson says to tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them.
“This is the formula for a successful message. It works every time—whether it’s a phone call or a State of the Union Address,” she says.
4. Make sure all your stories and humor have a point.
I personally love being funny. I also love to tell stories. My challenge is to stay focused—I’ll keep you sitting all day if you’d like to listen. But we all know people get hungry. Wordiness just isn’t effective.
“Be brief when telling a story, and include only the relevant details,” Gibson notes. “Similarly humor is a powerful tool, but only if it has a clear point. Telling a long joke is very risky.”
Gibson adds that starting a speech with a joke is a recipe for disaster. If the audience doesn’t buy in, you’ll start your talk with crickets. The audience gets uncomfortable, and you will most certainly feel the strain.
“Stories and humor are great if they have a point,” says Gibson. “Get in, get out, and move on.”
5. Create a closing they’ll remember.
Tell them briefly what you’ve already told them.
“Don’t use your closing to introduce new thoughts,” says Gibson. “End with strong words, and again, try to use the word `You.’”
This is the time to praise your audience’s role, share a bit about your personal philosophy if it pertains to your topic, bring in the “big picture,” or ask a strong rhetorical question.
Once you understand a bit about your audience’s demographics and keep in mind the aforementioned words of advice, you have all the tools necessary to craft a great speech. This skill is vital in your efforts to build your business, generate funds, or grow your brand. Try to have fun with it.
“Take your audience on a trip, then bring them home,” she says. “Repetition works.”
Are you helping students write speeches or reports?
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