Mar 8 2017
Women Only Courses
Let's admit it: we've all been in boring meetings like the one in the picture. We may have even given one. So how can we avoid in the place of that pathetic guy?
“I have a dream” and “Ich bin ein Berliner” are very simple sentences, yet they have become iconic quotes because of the people who said them, the way they said them, and the occasions on which those simple words were spoken.
Martin Luther King invested his passion in expressing his dream, and John Kennedy packed his incredible charisma into a sentence, and that's why their words have changed the world.
I've been speaking to multinational audiences for over 20 years. I've also been a writer, blogger and editor. I've learned a lot over the years, so here are my secrets for writing and delivering a "killer" speech.
You are the Message
This is a simple and important fact. Your words are important, yet having a well-written speech is only part of your success as a speaker. That’s why many celebrities sound dull when they read out a speech someone else has written for them. Remember that you are the real star of the show. Good speakers can say really simple things and make them sound like great wisdom or hilarious anecdotes. They can also say the same sentence in many ways to mean different things.
Your appearance, body language and use of pauses are all part of your message. Also, your stress on words -or even parts of words- can make all the difference. People receive a complete audio-visual message from you, so make sure that all your tools are in sync and transmitting a consistent message.
Go online and look for as much relevant information as possible about your topic, your audience, the place where the event will take place and your host organization. Even research your fellow speakers in the event. This helps you to get an overall idea of the context of your speech, to tailor it to suit that specific event. Never recycle speeches and presentations off the shelf.
Use Social Media
People and pages you follow, your contacts, and your fan base can do your research for you if you choose them wisely and know how to curate your news feed. Useful information is shared daily on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Save them for future use.
Watch Great Speakers
The more good speakers your watch, the more you will learn. Analyze the styles of the speakers you like, but don't copy them. Instead, try to create your own signature style. TED talks are a good example because they showcase great ideas in a short time, which is a challenge to any speaker. Observe the creativity of speakers in optimizing the use of the time they’re allocated. Take notes and learn.
Write Passionately Then Edit Ruthlessly
Write as if there is no limit, open a folder and pack it with notes, key words, funny stories, links, pictures and relevant quotes. Depending on the time you’re allocated, write a backbone with 5-8 main ideas in logical order, so that your speech has a start, a body and a conclusion. Then write a paragraph under each point. Add a story or a quote here and there. Spend a few days at this stage, adding and removing details. Once you settle on a logical flow of ideas, focus on writing a powerful punch line. That's a short sentence, after which you will just stop talking, to signal the end of your speech. It should act as a cue for the audience to applause. Think of something powerful that would sum up your main idea. It will be what the audience will take home. From my work as an editor, I learned to cut out at least 30% of any original text! Trust me, no meaning will be lost if you cut the chatter and keep the short, strong and clear key sentences.
Visualize and Practice
A good speech without practice is a bad speech. And too much practice also makes it a bad speech. Imagine yourself in the occasion, have a dress rehearsal if you can, and go through your speech exactly as you would in the event. Make sure to use the same notes you would use in the event, then change sentences that don’t sound right. Make sure you’re speaking at the same pitch and speed that you would during the event.
Keep the Time
Using a stopwatch, time yourself and make sure that your speech is a few minutes shorter than the time you’re allocated. This leaves you space to improvise or add an idea at the last minute. Exceeding your time is a big fail, try to avoid that in every way possible.
Don’t Read Your Speech
Yes you can use notes, but they’re only a reminder not a script to read from to your audience. If you have written your own speech and then edited and rehearsed it, it means you have a clear idea of what you want to say. You should be able to say it naturally with minimum reminders. You'll look a lot more genuine and spontaneous that way.
Refer to the Previous Speakers
Always leave room in your speech for last minute improvisation in relation to what happened in the room minutes before you took the stage, this makes you appear human and relevant to the audience.
Fine-tune Your Style
Adjust the delivery style to the occasion and setting. Less formal occasions require you to be more conversational, while formal occasions require a more serious style.
Speak in the correct speed. The pressure of speaking to a crowd could make you want to speak faster to get it over with, or distort time to make you feel as if you’ve exceeded your time. Don’t give in to this illusion, focus on speaking at the same pace you used in your rehearsal.
Here are some of the things speakers forget to do when they’re on stage:
Relax but be alert, look around the room, move, breathe, pause, smile, vary the pitch of voice, drink water, use humor intelligently
There is Always Room for Improvement
Promise yourself that each speech will be better than the previous one. It’s not the end of the world if something went wrong or your mood was off once in a while, as long as you use that as a learning opportunity.
This article has been written by PLUS Specialty Training’s Communication and Presentation Skills for Female Professionals Trainer Sahar El- Nadi.
Sahar El-Nadi is an internationally-recognized public speaker, best-selling author, artist and instructor. Her audiences have included the Swedish Royal Palace, Harvard University and TED Talks.
Sahar frequently speaks around the world in English and Arabic on women’s leadership, creative communication, and diversity. She was Expert in Residence for Communication and Presentation Skills at the American University in Cairo for their Women Leadership Program. Sahar appeared on the covers of international magazines and was among the “Top 20 Women Leaders of the World” selected by University of Santa Clara women’s program. She is an active user of social media and blogs daily to thousands of readers.
Over a 30-year career, Sahar has developed experience in many people-related industries including advertising and publicity, media and fashion, publishing, travel and hospitality, and training and education. In 2006, she created “Don’t Hate, Educate” a cross-cultural conflict resolution concept, which was awarded for its creative content. In 2012, she published her first book Sandcastles & Snowmen in the US. In 2015, she created Cairo Coloring Club and published The Book of Joy, a best seller, as a tool for stress-management using her unique designs.