The essence of a good speech

Jon Favreau makes speech-writing sound really easy. I had the pleasure of hearing him talk at a seminar two years ago. While I continue to learn the essence of a good speech, I’m sharing what I learn with you. Here are some of Jon’s tips:
  1. Tell a story. Your story is more important than slogans.
‘What’ is more important than ‘how’. Focus on the story first. Start every speech or presentation with the questions: What is the broader story? What is the goal, the one take-away and how do I bring it to live by standing out, be different and not give too much information? What are the key messages? Start with a few bullets. Build a logical structure, a storyline, a flow, with key and sub points. Link arguments in a logical manner. Pay attention to the transition between thoughts. Add humour and personal details. Humour reveals a bit of yourself and makes that people will trust you. Nobody else than the person who will give the speech can personalise the speech. One-liners or slogans (Yes, We Can!) are added at the end. Find that one word or line that people will remember.
  1. Keep it simple – As short as possible and use simple words.
Stick to the most important and limit the timing to 15 minutes max. 10 minutes is ideal.
  1. Discuss counterarguments during your speech or presentation. Don’t wait for the Q&A.
It’s more convincing to proactively discuss counter arguments during the speech. Acknowledge frustration and scepticism.
  1. Empathy is an important skill. REALLY know your audience.
Study your audience. Talk to them. Analyse the words they use. Understand the world from your audience point of view. Say what you believe in but use words that your audience likes to hear.
  1. Inspire – Capture the hearts of your audience.
Emotion is a powerful trigger for action. The content needs to be excellent but content needs emotion to be persuasive. “Reach people’s minds, but capture their hearts”. Jon never said it was easy.. Mohammed Qahtani won the title of Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking in 2015. His speech is called ‘The Power of Words” and it’s just over 7 minutes. He immediately gets the audience on his side, he doesn’t lose sight of his message, he makes it personal, he uses his strengths to overcome his weaknesses and he ends on a hopeful note. In one word, fantastic! Here it is. Enjoy.  

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