It’s World Speech Day. 195 countries will connect today to celebrate the art of speechmaking. Great speeches are impossible to forget and have changed our world. But for busy business execs, speeches can fall short of brilliant. With our speeches now frequently projected from a real-world local stage to a virtual-world global one, our words today matter more than ever. If you’ve been asked to speak – be it at an international conference or to a group of internal colleagues – here’s my top tips for those who not only want to speak but want to say something impactful.
A passion for your subject. When you are genuinely passionate about something your audience knows. If you aren’t excited by it neither will they be. Ask yourself what makes you happiest about your topic and start there. You are there to engage and inspire and happiness is infectious.
Brevity. It’s a speech not a lecture. Any more than 20 minutes is too long. You can’t tell people everything so give them what they’ll most value. Speaking at 125 words a minute, you’ve only got 2,500 to make your mark. Complexity confuses, simplicity satisfies – every topic can be simplified.
Creativity. You need to secure heads AND hearts. Facts alone don’t win arguments. Emotionally connect with your audience by telling stories. Paint images they can hold in their head by harnessing metaphor and visual language. Then rehearse out loud – it sounds different when you speak it.
Alex has ghost-written speeches, scripts and presentations that have been presented by senior business leaders on an international stage. She established not A Duff word in March 2017. She helps businesses, brands and boards to wordsmith words that work, master their messages to matter and sculpt standout stories. Her blog ‘early words’ is published Thursday mornings at 07:00.