Last updated on 5 December 2020
When speaking professionally you need a platform to represent something greater than yourself. The service, product, cause or whatever, is why you have an audience in the first place. Think about what you represent so you can connect with the listener. The platform will make your speech easier to deliver as you become something higher than yourself within the presentation.
A speech must be well structured. An educational speech (a lecture) can be long but motivational speeches should be shorter. The more emotional a speech is, the shorter it is.
The Gettysburg address one of the most famous speeches in history is only 272 words. If you want to leave an impression less is more.
It should have a powerful opening, usually asking a question. Speeches should include three points. They should always finish with a powerful ending, maybe answering the question posed at the start. It could also challenge the audience in some way to change their view or take action.
Good speeches include stories. If your speech has three points then use a story for each. In the stories identify a problem associated with your audience, reinforce it and then use the same story to give a solution. Audiences love stories and they make the speech more interesting.
Humour adds so much to a speech but make sure your jokes are not offensive as this will do more harm than good. If you feel you can’t be funny just give the speech with a big smile which will elicit a similar reaction from your listener.
The use of projectors, videos, audios and slides help to break up the speech and make it more interesting. However be careful not overdo these visual aids. A speech that is just a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation with the speaker reading what is on the screen is useless. It shortchanges the audience who could have got the same information staying at home. The visual aids should enhance the speech not the other way round.
You should be spending least five times writing and preparing the speech than the time you take to deliver it. If you are giving the same speech more than once, still go over it and improve it. Always consider the audience when writing a speech. Research your listener as a generic speech always needs tweaking before delivery.
The more you speak the better you get. Join a Toastmasters Club ( Google, Toastmasters International) where you can get experience and constructive feedback. Practice your speech in-front of the mirror to a point where you don’t need to refer to your notes very often.
Use lots of expression when speaking. (With smaller audiences apply regular eye contact ) and change the pitch tone and volume of your voice. Also use body language to emphasise a point. Speak with your hands and be prepared to move around the stage.
As mentioned before find a pain the audience is suffering from, reinforce it with examples and then offer them a solution. This is the easiest way to develop rapport with your listener.
Your speech must remain relevant to the topic delivered. Don’t waffle. If speaking to an organisation, send them a summery of the speech, a biog of yourself and ask to be introduced by one of their executives. Give the audience takeaways, more knowledge and action points.
Record a video of every speech you do, good or bad. The good ones can act as a showreel for future bookings and the bad ones can be a reminder of where to improve. It is best to arrange a film editor to be responsible for this.
Where ever possible make sure you can promote other products on the back of your speaking. Books, other media ,courses and workshops can all result from your speech. Make your entrance when announced. Where appropriate use music video and drama. Finally use videos for testimonials to demonstrate previously satisfied customers ,audiences extra.
I would recommend a booking agent. If you are new to speaking this might be difficult so you will need to price your own events.
Firstly set you price quite high. If there is no response contact your client and try to find out their budget. Adjust your price accordingly. You can always find a reason to offer them a discount as a special offer. Always add expenses no matter what the fee. Never make the expenses more than the fee unless you are doing the speech for free.
Your aim is to build up your income but any speech is worth doing even if you don’t get paid as all speeches are an advert and can bring in testimonials. Remember always include expenses. You mustn’t be out of pocket. Some very wealthy speakers started by giving 60% of their speeches for nothing when they were new to the profession. If you are Persistent you will eventually attract the big money.