Todd’s Public Speaking Tips – Entry 2

In class this week one of the students asked me if their ‘Speak with Sincerity’ Speech had to be serious.  I answered that she didn’t so long as she was passionate about her topic.  I was correct, but incomplete.  She needs to be both passionate and honest.  It goes back to the point I was trying to make in my last article.  A speech should reveal something about you.  When you hear that it seems as though you need to be serious, but it is equally good to be revealing that you are a giant goofball.

Honesty – It is a key component.  I suppose the point I want to make here is that not every speaker should speak on every topic.  Speaking isn’t acting.  Your speaking style may indeed be an exaggerated or molded aspect of yourself, but it needs to be an true aspect of yourself.

Relationship – I also realize that I need to back up a little bit.  When talking your purpose is to form a relationship between you and your audience.  Normally when people talk about the purpose of a speech they talk about speaking to inform, entertain, inspire or persuade.  All of those purposes also require a tie to be formed between the speaker and the audience.  That relationship underlies all speeches.  It also might be odd in that a speech is just a speaker talking to an audience, but the communication flows both ways as in any relationship.  Audiences react and that feeds into the speech.  A speaker needs to understand that such a two-0way flow of communication exists and work to build on it.  This is why a lot of my points are about honesty and showing aspects of yourself.  As in any relationship these things also form a basis and so they do in a speech as well.

Specificity – I feel the need to throw in a funny point here.  I’ve said that being honest doesn’t mean you need to be serious, but my last two points seem to be brimming with a serious earnestness.  But this point doesn’t have that so I’ll tell my favorite joke instead.  A horse walks into a bar.  Ouch.  Anyway, lots of people throw too many points into a speech and the speech becomes a list (much like these articles).  In seven minutes you can do about 2 or 3 points well.  I already mentioned repetition.  That takes up a lot of time.  Another thing that does is specificity.    This doesn’t mean a lot of adjectives are needed.  But it can mean hitting the sensuality of a topic – how does it feel (touch), look, smell.  If you are talking about a car mention the brand, its age, the way it sounds as it is starting and the way it knocks as you are shutting it off.  But don’t fill in needless details.  Say enough to allow the audience to envision what you are speaking of and then use that visualization.  Don’t use so many that it becomes about the thing and not about the point you are trying to make.

Maybe an example.  Let’s say I’m giving a speech about my Kindle.  I love my Kindle so it is going to meet my requirement to have the speech be about me if I can show that love.  But that doesn’t mean that the audience will care.  I need a hook and a message that they will care about.  I could talk about why they need to buy one and the hook is that their lives would be somehow improved.  Another message could be that the easy access to classics and a wide variety of subjects is a good thing.   My hook could be that they can read a book a week and spend almost no money (beyond the initial expenditure).

I need to be specific about the device.  Its size and weight (thinner than my iPhone, the same weight as my universal remote control).  Its beautiful white, clean design.  The tactile feel of flipping pages.  It is different than turning a real page.  But there is a click, a pause and a page refresh.  You fell like you are doing something.  The way the text looks as clear and crisp as that on the printed page.

I’ll probably not use the horse joke.

OK – done for tonight.

The Pause

The smile




Rule of triads –

Avoid the known


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