On crafting a speech

17 Apr

When crafting a speech you really need an audience to test it on. And presentations guru, Rob Geraghty, is the ideal sounding board, encouraging me to experiment while keeping my wilder flights of fancy in check.  Most important is Rob’s refrain, “this sounds great, Nisha, but what does it really mean for your audience? ” This month I’ve been working on a speech entitled ‘Getting Your Message Across’, aimed at a large audience of IT professionals. With a little help from Rob, it’s gelling nicely.

There’s a vast amount of content to draw on – from classic speeches and charismatic politicians, to rhetorical flourishes and decoding body language. But I’ve only got half an hour to get my own message across and as the last speaker of the day, I daren’t keep my audience from the evening’s entertainment up ahead. So what to include  and what to jettison? Here’s where road-testing the speech with Rob comes in.  It becomes obvious pretty quickly that Rob’s connecting with the video clips I’ve found of Steve Jobs, John Chambers, and Steve Ballmer.  So I’m going to make these three icons of the IT industry the core of my speech and get the audience to figure out what we can all  learn from them. The aim is to get everyone on their feet by the end! Presentation  is in a week’s time – fingers crossed until then.

Rob Geraghty is at www.getwowfactor.co.uk.

5 Responses to “On crafting a speech”

  1. Marius 18. Apr, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    My problem is that I need an audience in order to get into “speech mode”. As soon as I stand there, something snaps and things usually go nicely – in fact, I find it much more difficult to present something in front of two persons than in front of a larger group. Hence, for me I believe, testing it in front of a coach would be a real challenge. But I do practice by myself – first time they heard it my flatmates were wondering what on earth I was doing…

  2. Michael 20. Apr, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    Nisha, I can empathize with your desire for flights of fancy. And while Rob’s question about the audience’s experience is a crucial one, I surmise that your desire to be yourself in front of scores, hundreds, or thousands says something important about how comfortable you feel when giving a speech or emceeing an event. Like all of your readers, I have seen impressive speeches, average addresses, and, more than not, boring or uninspired elocution. In my opinion, what separates the good from the great is not just confidence, but also comfort level with the audience. There are a host of micro-signals that each speaker sends when he/she is perched before an audience.

    So while we all should probably keep our flights of fancy in check, it doesn’t hurt to leave a few unchecked and liberate those emotions and thoughts. I think they do more than we realize to let the audience know how that you are in control and at ease. Of course, Shakespearean soliloquies, reading excerpts longer than 50 words and overly-wrought preaching (especially to the choir) are to be avoided.

  3. Martin 20. Apr, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

    An addition to Rob’s “what does it really mean for your audience?”
    Out of my experience as a listener, I know that, helas, you can only retain very little from a speech you heard. So the essential of preparing a speech is for me to be entirely clear about this one thing you want people to remember. If you got this straight, the speech almost forms itself automatically. Once you stand there (I fully agree, Marius) something snaps and you deliver.
    Having seen you in action before, I have no doubts anyway about that…

  4. Sanchia 21. Apr, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    I think you’re right – it’s so easy to lose your audience, especially at the end of the day. You must blog again to let us know if you DID get them all on their feet.

  5. Penny 06. Jul, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Delighted you are blogging with best of them !! S&P are your number one fans.

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