YOU must have heard many speeches in your life. Do you remember any of them and the names of the speakers? I doubt it.

However, I am sure that there are a few speeches that have found a permanent place in your mind and heart. What made them so memorable?

Here are a few ways to add power to your speeches and presentations:

1. IT’S NOT ABOUT HOW GOOD YOU ARE

Many speakers make the mistake of showing off their “talent” and bragging about how good they are. Well, it is important to establish credibility that you are an expert, but it is unnecessary to brag about your achievements.

In the first few minutes of your speech, you have to answer the “what’s in it for me?” question that the members of your audience are asking. The audience must feel that they have made a wise decision to attend the event and listen to you speak.

How can you do that? Simple. Focus on their needs. If you are speaking to a group of engineers, talk to a few engineers and discuss with them a brief synopsis of what you are about to present. Take their feedback and tweak your message accordingly.

2. WARM UP

You know the importance of a warm-up before you play a sport or work on your routines at a gym. Similarly, you must also warm up before each speech. Many speakers arrive just a few minutes before they are due to speak and are busy setting up the equipment — mainly laptop-projector connections. That’s not a warm-up; that’s a technical check.

Here are a few examples of a warm-up:

* If possible, arrive at the venue a couple of hours ahead of your speaking slot. Stand at the place where you will be speaking. Randomly choose one point from your speech and start speaking as if you are really speaking to a live audience. This will help you mentally prepare for your speech. Also, try sitting at different places to check if your computer slides and flip charts are visible to everyone in the audience.

* Just before you start your speech, smile and introduce yourself to the people who have arrived early. It’s always better to talk to a few people you recognise than to talk to an audience of strangers.

3. ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE

Have you come across speakers who talk endlessly? After all preachers preach, teachers teach and speakers speak, correct? Wrong!

Of course as a speaker, you have to speak, but you must ensure that your audience speaks too. If you don’t engage your audience, it is very easy to put them to sleep or lose their attention. Simply taking a resolution that “I will engage my audience” doesn’t help you much.

While preparing your speech, specifically identify the portions of your speech where you want to engage your audience. Also identify how you want to engage your audience.

Do you want them to discuss issues with the person sitting next to them? Do you want them to answer a question written on the flip chart (or the computer slide)? Do you want one of the members of the audience to share his experiences? A little preparation and planning in this area will add spice to your speech!

4. USE STORIES AND ANECDOTES

As a memory expert, I know from experience that the human brain remembers pictures better. Stories help your audience to visualise your message.

A simple anecdote can make your audience remember your message for a very long time.

Also remember that it is a sin to use “popular” stories.

Your audience might have heard the same story from a hundred other speakers and switch off. The best stories are your personal stories.

If you are speaking about negotiation, tell them about an incident in your life that captures your message of negotiation.