Sunday, May 10, 2009

End your fear of public speaking - Part 2 – “Tricks”

   In the last blog I covered some of the things to consider before you even start writing your speech – things that will help you to determine how to write a speech that will really suit your own style and personality and… easy to remember. One thing that was covered was the fact that it is important to define the points that you need to make - I’d now like to move on to a few simple tricks that you can use when you are actually writing a speech that will help make those points clearer, stronger and yes…. easier to remember. The idea is to make a speech that you really connect with so you have greater confidence in it, can deliver it with conviction and can retain and relate it with ease.


 It is interesting to note that I use the term “easy to remember”. There is single word that can be used instead of a phrase: memorable, but memorable seems to have a different connotation that “easy to remember”. Memorable seems to refer to the point of view of the listener while easy to remember refers to the person delivering the speech. There is a value to be gained from the association between the two. While a speech that is easy to remember may not necessarily be memorable, a memorable speech is usually easy to remember and if you design your speech to be memorable you’ll have an easier time remembering it. It’s a win in two directions.


Trick #1 – Points and Themes

                                                     While this may sound like basic structure rather than a trick but the trick lies in not in the use but the emphasis - pay real attention to the points and themes in your speech and then push them when you are actually delivering the speech. At all times your audience is asking, consciously or sub-consciously “what’s your point?”  So make sure you always let them know what your point is. If you are giving out a long list of facts, or telling a long story, tell them why. A theme is basically a substructure that can contain one or many points. Some types of themes include:


a)      Analogies –  great for providing clarity and a fresh perspective

b)      Stories – good for engaging crowds and giving context

c)      Referring to characters – not for everybody, but this can be very effective

d)      Catch-phrases  - a perennial favourite for good reason

e)      Summarized ideas – e.g.: things run in cycles



Trick #2 Repetition

                                  At first it might seem like repetition is something you should avoid in a speech. You don’t want to sound like you are just repeating yourself over and over, or appear as though you forgot that you just said the same thing a moment ago. Repetition, when it’s used deliberately can be very useful. Think of some of the most famous speeches in history, most of them relied heavily on repetition.


“ We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them with growing strength and growing confidence in the air, we will fight them in the fields and in the hills ……”


Identify some of the places in your speech that really deserve emphasis and then determine which word or phrase to repeat. Sometimes you can go one step further with this and use trick #3.



Trick #3  Catch-phrases and monikers

                                                                   Aside from providing structure for themes catch phrases are great things to use in general. They stick in peoples minds, lend themselves to repetition and can also provide a pinch of humour every now and then. You don’t have to be any great wordsmith to come up with a catch phrase, don’t be afraid to use something that’s well known, (use it or lose it, let sleeping dogs lie etc.) the cliché is permissible when used as a catch phrase to put a point across and if you have followed the advice in the previous blog you will have a genuine connection with your material which is the most important thing. Having said that, if you can create something really original, even better… go for it. A moniker similar to a catch phrase but is a substitute name for something. You might not use the word moniker but you use monikers – “the head honcho” is a moniker. A good moniker can be memorable and also sum up the essence of something


Trick #4 – The Bow-tie

                                        The bow-tie refers to the summary that occurs at the end of a speech that brings together all the main points that you want to leave your audience with. It should be more than just a summary though. Really pay attention and put some extra effort into crafting this section because it will serve not only as a reminder to your audience of all your main points but also as a reminder to you. When you are practising your speech make specific reference to really remembering this section because if you have that solidly in your mind you can always refer to it and it will connect you with all the most important parts of your speech. A good bow-tie is also advisable because it gives some polish to a speech and can make you look like a real pro – at the crucial point, right at the end.


These are just a few ideas to take note of. They may just sound like common sense but pay attention to them and they will pay real dividends providing you with a presentation that is both memorable and….. easy to remember.



1 comment:

  1. Good post! Preparation is always appropriate. It helps build confidence. Here's how one person dealt with his public speaking fears.

    In my recently published Christmas novel, the main character, Ian, has to undergo some management training. However, he almost backs out when he discovers that public speaking is part of the deal!

    He sticks with it, though and soon learns an interesting technique from one of his internet searches. It's all about how to mingle and network with people before an event. He tries some of the tips by helping his new friend, Elise, with some administrative functions prior to the speech class. Makes him feel like a host. It's a real confidence builder!

    All the best!
    Eric Dana Hansen, Author of "IAN, CEO, North Pole


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