A well-organised speech is like a tidy room. Everything is in the right place, and it leaves a lasting impression.
Remember, there is no second chance for a first impression. If you do not excite your listeners from the start, they will start constructing a mental wall so high that you could be shut out from communicating your message soon after.
To ensure the smooth delivery of your speech, pay close attention to three elements: the introduction, the body and the conclusion.
In operation management parlance, it is the input, the process and the output.
A simple example would be collecting water (input), boiling it to a certain temperature (process), and getting the desired result — either hot water or steam (output).
You want to grab your audience’s interest right from the start. Captivate and engage them so that they will be interested in what is to come.
You have to set the mood just like a movie trailer, which entices people with a taste of the action. Here are some tips for a great introduction:
Don’t let curiosity kill the cat. Tell the audience what they can expect — give them an outline of your presentation. Anticipation is good but the audience should never have to ask: “What is going on?”
Begin your presentation with a bang. If you have some dramatic news to impart or a startling fact to reveal, try opening with it. Capture attention from the start.
WIIFM. Each person in your audience will be asking: “What’s In It For Me?” — and you need to give them a convincing answer. Always remember that you are competing for their precious time, so share with the audience how listening to you will benefit them — for example, they will have more passion in their lives, attract more people or become more persuasive or successful.
KISS. This is a golden rule of presentations — Keep It Short and Simple. Don’t bore your listeners by rambling on about an issue. Grab their attention, get to the point and move on to the next topic.
The body of your talk contains the main message. It is the meat that your audience will feed on, so you have to make sure that it is well prepared.
Using your hand as a guideline, try to arrange the body of your speech around five main headings.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so break up your speech into easier manageable components. Do not let your listeners suffer and struggle to remember too many points.
People are comfortable with familiar patterns. A good example would be the pattern of time.
Time is like a river. Let your talk flow according to a chronological sequence of events, or topics that logically follow one another.
You could also organise your talk around, say, a pattern of problem, solution and action, with examples to illustrate.
American writer and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said: “Great is the art of beginning but greater is the art of ending.”
After starting off well and giving your audience plenty to think about, you have to end your talk on a high note, too. Practise these tips:
Summarise to mesmerise. This is an effective way to conclude your talk. Help the audience to recall what you said by summarising the key points of your speech.
Action speaks louder than words. Confucius said: “If you know something and do not act upon it, it is as though you know nothing.” Call for your audience to act by offering them a strong motivating statement.
For a strong ending, take a cue from Sir Winston Churchill: “You have to appeal to their emotion of pride, love, hope and fear”.
Use these guidelines when you are crafting your next talk.
A well-crafted presentation will help you to establish rapport with your audience, communicate your ideas to them, engage them and move them to action. That is the recipe to becoming a successful public speaker.