In my last post I talked about how the Rule of Threes can make a dramatic difference to your creative copywriting. Now you’re only a step away from improving your speech writing and speech making.
‘I want to introduce you tonight to a person of wit, charm, and intelligence. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be here, so you’re stuck with me.’
Heard it before? So give us a tired smile. Or is it new to you? Did it break the ice?
Speechwriting isn’t just writing
Don’t let anyone tell you that speechwriting is just writing by another name. True, it shares some characteristics of writing:
- communication (the art of getting people to act on your words ideas and words).
But it has a power that the written word doesn’t. And you don’t have to be Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King to learn how to write, and deliver, great speeches.
Write to be read, speak to be heard
Start with the basics—no-one writes like they speak, or speaks like they write. Even hard-to-fathom teenagers know that a text message needs a different structure to a phone call or a face-to-face. (And if you’re in your 30s or beyond, be grateful!)
What makes writing and delivering a speech the second most feared thing next to death?
It’s fear itself. Would you believe though, that most of the fears that haunt speaking and speakers are just not true?
These are the big myths about speaking in public:
• it’s stressful
• you have to be smart and talented
• you won’t be able to say everything you need to
• you’ll freeze with stage fright
• the audience is just waiting to tear you to pieces.
Let’s look at each of these.
1. It’s inherently stressful
Most new things involve a dose of doubt. Remember getting on to your bike for the first time? But like millions before you, you can learn how to write and speak with ease. You just need the right tools and the right approach.
2. You need skill and courage
No, you just need to give the audience a little value. Believe it or not, they don’t want perfection. They just want to take away something interesting, a fact they didn’t know, or a new angle on something they did.
3. You won’t be able to say everything you need
The best speeches say only a little. But they say it in strong, clear, plain language. Too many speakers, especially those starting out, try to cram too much into their performance. Two or three main points is all you need. More, and your risk losing yourself and your audience.
4. What about stage fright?
If you’re well prepared—not over prepared—you’ll be poised, confident and calm. You WILL have your speech fully written as a back-up. The worst that can happen? You lose your place. So you apologise, and fall back on your script. Often the audience doesn’t even notice. Be honest, and they won’t care. Most will actually sympathise.
5. The audience wants to see blood
The opposite’s true. They want you to succeed. They’re keen for you to do a good job. And they don’t need very much to satisfy them. No matter how small a fact, or a thought, if it makes them think, feel better, or feel differently about themselves, you’re a success.
Lets come back to the Rule of Threes to conclude. And let’s narrow down to three the secrets to writing and making a great speech:
- it’s only as stressful as YOU make it
- you don’t have to say everything—two or three key points are enough, as long as they give value
- your audience wants you to succeed.
There. Who said you couldn’t speak in public?