Making a speech is never an easy undertaking, requiring not only steely nerves on the day but also solid writing skills in advance.
Whatever your business proposition, a well-written speech can both impress existing clients and win new custom. The alternative… well, the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about, but being forced to deliver a clunky, ill-prepared speech can leave you looking like a comic dying on stage.
Some of our clients are regular speech givers so we asked them for their top tips for delivering the perfect presentation. Here’s what they had to say…
- “Understand your audience.” If you don’t know who it is you’re speaking to, how can you deliver the information they need to hear – and how can you hold their attention?
- “Know the purpose of your speech.” It might be welcoming delegates to a conference, or pitching a new product to buyers, or thanking shareholders for their contribution during the year. Whatever it is, ask yourself the central purpose of the speech, and tailor your text around that. Ronnie Corbett-esque segues don’t generally go down well in a corporate context.
- “Have a structure.” Don’t deliver a burbling stream-of-consciousness; instead, construct a well-ordered presentation which touches on all the key points in a logical and easy-to-understand sequence.
- “Don’t make it too long.” Eyelids WILL start to droop. Time is precious. Say what you need to say and depart the podium. It’s a good idea at the beginning of the speech to prepare the audience for its duration. “I’d just like to talk to you for five-or-so minutes about…”
- “If appropriate, use visual aids.” It can help the listener in grasping a difficult concept, as well as help hold their interest.
- “Have a great first line and an ever better last line.” You need to grab the listeners’ attention at the start and leave them with a memorable pay-off at the end.
- “Use plain English.” The same principles apply for spoken as for written pieces: simple language favouring clarity over show-off jargon wins the day every time.
- “Edit carefully.” Don’t dash something off at the last minute and deliver it in first-draft form. Like all pieces of writing, it will improve from at least one, preferably two or three, rewrites. Read it aloud to help your ear pick up any weaknesses.
To which we’d add one more tip: if in doubt, seek us out. At Wordsworks we’ve got a fine track record of helping businesses, universities and public sector clients write and edit powerful speeches.
If you could do with a helping hand, why not contact us to discuss your project?