How to deliver a great speech

This was originally published in Forbes magazine. In the article the author, Jacquelyn Smith, shares some great tips and advice to help the reader improve their public speaking skills. It is refreshing to see an emphasis on ensuring you have a clear message and utilising anecdotes to drive a message home to the audience.


How to deliver a great Speech

The late Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford University has been viewed close to 8 million times on YouTube. Eight years after he delivered it, a text version still flies around the Web. The speech is as powerful for its message–stay hungry, stay foolish–as it is for its structure and delivery. “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life,” he said. “That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.” And with that, viewers (and readers) are hooked.

Future public speakers of the world, take note. You don’t have to be a Silicon Valley billionaire to deliver a great speech. The best speeches include a clear, relevant message and a few great stories to illustrate it.

Forget fancy PowerPoint presentations and loads of data. Instead, keep your speech simple, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Focus on one theme, and eliminate everything else. “Speeches are an inefficient form of communication,” says Nick Morgan, a Forbes contributor, the president ofPublic Words, Inc., and author of Trust Me: Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma. “People don’t remember much of what they hear, so focus and keep it simple.”

Use anecdotes. “People would find speechwriting much easier if they realized that all they needed to do was find a key message and three great stories to support it,” says Jane Praeger, a Columbia University professor and the president of the speech presentation and coaching firm Ovid Inc. “Those kinds of speeches are also easier to deliver because they don’t have to be read.  If you’ve lived a story, you can tell it from memory and with genuine feeling.  And stories stick in people’s minds.  When you tell people a story, it arouses their emotions and releases dopamine in their brains, which makes that content sticky.  In other words, if you make people feel what you are talking about, they won’t forget it.”

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Mark Kyte

Mark Kyte is a public speaking mentor and founder of the Public Speaking Skills Academy. Mark loves helping clients achieve dynamic results that help them increase their influence and get more clients. Read more of his blog and if you like what you see check out the mentoring programs.