Speaking is one of the quickest ways to get clients for your business. My success is business has been due to spending a lot of time on the road speaking to audiences of all sizes. I think it is so important, I spend a lot of time in in private coaching program helping my client develop their signature speech and all the marketing collateral around that.
Today, I’m sharing some of the best tips I’ve found for creating an effective speech.
1. Ask a Question You Can’t Answer As a speaker, we all feel a lot of pressure to “know it all”. Asking a question that you don’t know the answer to, engages the audience and gets them thinking. You can simply ask, “does anybody know XXX?” and then say – I don’t either – let’s explore that together.
2. Don’t Defer Answering Questions If someone is asking a question that means they are listening!!! Take the time to engage with the audience in real time.
3. Always Give the Audience Something to Take Home Have a call to action at the end of your speech. This doesn’t necessarily have to be your sales pitch. In fact, this should be in addition. How can they tangibly apply what they’ve learned in their lives tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to say – “Think of your client that is struggling with (problem) – and tomorrow try (this) to help them.”
4. Use an inverted pyramid to organize your speech. Highlight the most important information in the first few sentences (how much money might be saved, how lives might be improved, etc.). Support claims with logic and evidence, and end every sales pitch or proposal with acall to action. If an audience agrees with the initial message or point, the supporting material that follows will reinforce that agreement. If an audience disagrees, logic and evidence may win them over.
5. Don’t be afraid to use visual aids – but don’t overdo them. Make sure the visual aids can be seen by every person in the audience, and limit each chart or slide to a single main point.
6. Anticipate possible questions by rehearsing your speech with friends or your coach. I do this with my mastermind clients.
7. Make sure that your answers support your sales pitch. Find a way to use your product to answer the question.
8. If a question seems “off” – ask for clarification. You can often get the asker to reframe their loaded question, by asking them to explain it further.
9. Divide complicated questions into several parts so that you can keep your answers simple and to the point.
10. Tell great stories. Think about stories you can tell that are interesting but also have a lesson learned in them. We all have stories we can tell, but will those stories resonate with an audience? Will the audience be able to relate to them? Your stories can be over 50% of your presentation – people learn that way.
11. Do NOT read your presentation it never worked. Use the slides to your advantage. Or, give your audience a good outline of what you are covering. If you find yourself lost – just ask them – what was my next point going to be? If all else fails tell a joke 🙂
12. Record your speech Just like athletes can get better by observing their form – you can learn a lot by watching yourself on video. Once you’ve done it a few times it isn’t so bad – and you can use the recording in your marketing.
13 . Don’t over-do the stats and quotes. The audience is there to hear YOUR take on the subject. Don’t make into a 7th grade research paper. Yes, use a few stats to back up your points or a quote here or there to make things interesting – but don’t make it your whole entire speech.
14. Use Guy Kawasaki’s “10 20 30 Rule of PowerPoint.” People ask me all the time – how many slides for X long of a speech. Guy Kawasaki has an easy rule – 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font. I don’t always follow this – especially on sales webinars but it is a decent guideline.
15. Prep the Audience for Q&A Let them know at there is going to be Q&A at the end – so they can start thinking about questions. Also, it doesn’t hurt to recruit a few friends to ask you specific questions that support your talk goal.
16. Be yourself. Yeah, I know. This can be very hard to do with the stakes are high. But, remember people can sniff in authenticity a mile away. Be yourself – let people love you for who you are. The confidence will shine through in your presentation.
17. Be Thankful Every opportunity you have to speak as an honor. Be appreciative of your audience and what they might have had to do to make it to your presentation.
18. Practice Even if you won your state impromptu debate competition in high school – it helps to do a run through. You can do it in the car or in the bathtub if you have to.
19. Start with a bang Lead with your very best stuff – your funniest joke, your biggest take away – don’t make the audience have to wait for you to shine. Grab them right away with your big entrance.
20. Know who you’re talking to. Spend some time learning about your audience. If you are going to talk to a women’s group – learn something about the group, weave it into your speech. Make your audience feel that you wrote the speech just for them (even if it is your standard speech)
21. Never, ever admit let and them see the bags under your eyes
How do you feel when the first thing out of a speaker mouth is “I’ve been traveling for days and I’m so tired.” It is an instant downer. Turn on the adrenaline, put on that smile and get through the presentation. And, schedule some time to relax afterwards.
BONUS TIP: Plan Your Wrap Up
Have your closing nugget ready to go – so if you get cut off – you can end gracefully and on a high note.