Short of a root canal or IRS audit, perhaps nothing else is quite as painful for me as being forced to sit through a long (or even short), boring political speech. And what makes it especially painful is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are simple, easy-to-implement ways to greatly improve your speeches even if you’re a novice at giving speeches (and especially if you’re a veteran who nevertheless delivers boring, painful speeches).
Here are 10 quick tips to immediately improve the “listenability” of your speeches. (Hat tip to speech coach Amy Ayoub, who contributed unwittingly to portions of this report!)
1.) Have your introduction pre-written and keep it short and to the point. Do not let the person introducing you “ad lib” it if at all possible….ESPECIALLY if it’s a frat brother. Lord knows what he’ll say!
2.) Do not start with “Thank you for inviting me here today.” EVERYBODY starts their speech thanking the audience. If you want your speech to be memorable, be different. I’m not saying not to thank your audience; just don’t OPEN with the thank you.
3.) OK, if you don’t open up with a thank you, how DO you open up? Well, one good way is to open up by asking a question. “Have any of you here have ever heard the phrase…?”
4.) Or you could start by asking for some kind of activity. “Raise your hand if…”
5.) Or you could start by citing a powerful fact or statistic. “The odds are, four out of five of you here today will/are…”
6.) Or this one is great, but can make both you and the audience just a tad uncomfortable. Start by simply standing there for a minute or so and say…nothing. I watched Herman Cain do this once, and the one or two minutes of saying nothing seemed like an eternity. But by the time he spoke, he had every audience member sitting on the edge of their seats. I’ll never forget it. Powerful, powerful opening.
7.) Or make a big promise. “By the time you leave here today, you will…”
8.) During your remarks, tell a story or an anecdote. Make it personal. Add dialogue to make it even more powerful. “And then the little boy said to me…”
9.) Include an analogy. “Serving in the Legislature is like…”
10.) And finally, consider basing your speech around an acronym. “What I’m going to talk about today is J-E-T … Jobs, Education and Taxes.”
Bonus Tip: Don’t end your remarks with a Q&A session if Q&A is allowed. Do the Q&A…and THEN do your prepared ending after the Q&A is finished.
Until next time. Onward and rightward…
Dr. Chuck Muth, PsD
Professor of Psephology