By Anubhav Srivastava (Register for his Confidence Building Workshop Here!)
In my previous article, I shared that what makes a speech powerful and memorable is the message you give in it. Public speaking techniques that make you appear dramatic through deep pauses, eye contact and voice modulation etc. may make your speech look like a beautiful performance, however, they are not enough to make your speech memorable. Countless public speakers who deliver their speeches with amazing grace and beauty hardly make a long term impact on their audience because they simply don’t have a good enough message to share.
On the other hand, many speakers who lack the perfect technique still end up becoming really popular because their message is brilliant so people really don’t care whether you speak too fast or use filler words like uhms and uhhs! They love you and remember your speech because you shared a message that potentially made a difference to their lives. Your message is the meat and bones of your speech. Technique just makes it more beautiful.
Now, simply giving a message is not enough either! Because chances are whatever you are saying, they have already heard it from somewhere else!
If you are telling people to quit smoking? Well guess what, they have already heard it a hundred times.
If you are telling people to follow their passion, they have already heard it a hundred times.
If you are telling people that they should get into the habit of saving and investing their money, they have heard that a million times also.
The message is the most important part of your speech. BUT it is not enough. What makes a speech memorable is how you deliver that message
The public speaking techniques they teach you serve as ornaments to that message which makes it more beautiful, but they are not enough either. If you give a message through a lot of voice modulation, eye contact and dramatic pause, it may make the presentation better, but may still fail to move people.
What matters is that the message has to be told in an emotional way that compels people to take action.
Your message, which is the core of your speech is made more beautiful through technique but it still needs to rest on a few pillars which are of utmost importance. These pillars basically carry your message and help drive the point home. The inclusion of these pillars is basically what turns your message from a boring lecture to an emotional, engaging and rousing experience. So here are three of these pillars.
We humans naturally love stories. Ever since we were children it is stories that interested us more than any sort of theory. We would listen to and read stories and fuel our imaginations.
Not much changes when we become adults. We still love listening to and reading to stories. This is why Fiction or Non Fiction in the form of a story sells much better than a book that only discusses theory. This is why we love movies and everything that has a storyline.
Stories work for two reasons.
First, they ensure that audiences sit up and pay attention. We are naturally curious creatures and we naturally want to know what happens next in the story moment by moment and find out what happens in the end. This itself will keep your audiences attentive towards you.
Secondly, we see ourselves in the story and instantly form an emotional connection with the story, particularly if the characters are ones we can relate to. In the end if the story does its job well, we get a message out of it in a way that is not boring but touches our hearts. This makes it much more effective than only dishing out information in the form of a lecture.
Whenever you do any sort of public speaking make sure you incorporate some sort of stories that deliver the message you want to convey. You can use anecdotes online or you can narrate your own stories. Both work great, depending on the objective. Just make sure you don’t use a story that everyone knows already unless you add a twist to it to convey a new message.
The next pillar to deliver your message is humor. We all love a good laugh. Listening to someone narrate something funny, whether it is a joke or a funny real life story relaxes us. When we are relaxed we become more open to the other person and let down our guard. We become more receptive to the person’s message because our mind establishes them as a funny likable person who can help us feel good.
Do keep in mind that you should avoid using humor that maybe too offensive to some people and avoid humor that targets specific people in the audience. Use funny lesser known stories or use stories from your own life. In fact one of the best ways to make the audience laugh and like you is use self deprecating humor, where the only person in the room you make fun of, is yourself!
Also keep in mind that you don’t go too off track. Whatever humor you use should again be delivered as a means to deliver the message. If you are just being funny for the sake of being funny, that’s not the point. If that was what people wanted, they would go attend some stand up comedian’s show. You are not a comedian. You are just using comedy to deliver the message. So make sure the humor is relevant and don’t over do it. You are a serious speaker who uses humor to engage the audience and drive the point home. You are not a stand up comedian or a clown.
Questions are incredibly powerful. Ask yourself, would you rather prefer listening to a boring lecture or listen to an engaging talk where the speaker repeatedly asks you questions that force you to think and introspect?
I have personally always enjoyed the kind of speech where the speaker throws out questions because it makes me think and sometimes respond. Even if I do not respond, there would always be someone who would respond and that would ensure that the session remains interactive.
Depending on the kind of lecture you are giving and the audience you have, your questions have to be designed accordingly. If your audience is made up of adults and smart people, your questions too should be ones that make them think and help initiate a two way interaction during the event.
Keep in mind a couple of things. First make sure that you still retain control of the discussion. If it is a speech with a limited time available, make sure that that that too much of time is not involved in dialogue and you quickly take your speech forward. With longer events, if you have time you can hold longer discussions.
Another problem is that some people often tend to monopolize such discussions. Always make sure you encourage others to participate as well and don’t allow one person to go on for too long.
A very interesting way to make questions even more interesting is to turn it into a game and competition. This will get alot of people involved. For the answers to questions that are right are emotionally satisfy the audience, you can offer rewards too.
These three pillars when used to support a compelling message can be of tremendous value to keep your audience engaged and to ensure that you do your best to keep them alert. Now do keep in mind it may take a while to refine your speech to the point where the stories, humor and questions you use are the right fit for your audience and get an amazing response. Don’t give up. Keep getting your audience’s feedback and refine your future speeches accordingly. As long as you are constantly trying to learn and get feedback on what works and what doesn’t, you will progress!
Secondly don’t expect everyone in the audience to be blown away. There will always be a percentage of the audience that will be bored or dislike what you say even if they don’t tell that to your face. As long as most of your audience loves you, you are on the right track!
Finally there are two more pillars that are extremely important for you to deliver your message in the best way you can and without those two your speech will be on a shaky foundation. I’ll be sharing those two in my Confidence Building Workshop where I shall also be devoting a segment to Public Speaking. To Sign up for my workshop, click here and get all the details!
About the Author
Anubhav Srivastava is an author, speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields. It has been seen by over 1 Million People on Youtube. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
For one on one consulting or a motivational workshop at your organization please email firstname.lastname@example.org . If you would like to write a guest blog post on Anubhavsrivastava.com you contact on the same email address.
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