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How to organize a speech: Tell the audience upfront

Last week, I taught a speechwriting session at The Cornell Club of New York. I told the attendees, “You can organize your material almost any way you like as long as you tell the audience. Organize your material so it’s easy for them to follow.”

Here’s an example from the Minister of Economic Development (Ebrahim Patel), Republic of South Africa (given 22 July 2014). Up front, the speaker announces that “the six ‘i’s” will organize the speech:

Radical economic transformation requires that we do things differently and that we achieve greater outcomes. It means changing the economy to the benefit of ordinary South Africans …

To achieve this, we need to focus on six “i”s:

  •     Infrastructure
  •     Industrialisation, investment and innovation
  •     Inclusion, and
  •     Integration.

These six “i”s work together, to achieve radical economic transformation.

To read the entire speech (which uses “the six ‘i’s” for structure):

Do you suffer from podium jitters? How to conquer your nervousness at the lectern

Last month, teaching a presentation skills workshop in Washington DC, I covered the entire process required to prepare, rehearse, and deliver an effective PowerPoint presentation.

Of the dozens of sub-topics I addressed, which do you think drew the most questions? “How do I get over my nervousness? What can I do about my terrible fear of public speaking?”

Some of my advice:

1. Realize you’re not the only one who gets nervous at the mere thought of public speaking. Most speakers feel some degree of “the jitters” when they present.

2. Realize the audience doesn’t see many of your “fear of speaking” problems. The sweaty palms? The tight neck muscles? The butterflies you feel? Yes, they are real to you, but honestly, your audience can’t see them.

3. Realize you know your material better than anyone else in the room. Days before you speak, keep reminding yourself, “I’ve researched this information for 3 months. I know this topic inside out. The audience can learn a lot from me. This presentation will be good for my career.”

4. Realize no one in the whole room would like to take your place at the lectern. They’re glad to be sitting in the audience. They’re very glad you’re doing the talking so they can just listen.

If you’re serious about tackling nervousness, please take an hour or two to read It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It (St. Martin’s Press). You can borrow the book from a library and get a detailed section on “Nervousness”, with dozens of practical tips and examples. Tackle those podium jitters … and watch your career take off.

“Her book helps alleviate speakers’ anxieties so they can concentrate on their messages.” (Loren Gary, editor, Harvard Management Update)

Would you like me to speak to your organization about public speaking, speechwriting, and presentation skills? Contact me, and I’ll design an onsite session that works with your goals, your needs, your budget, your class size and your agenda.

How to write & give better speeches: The Cornell Club of NY

This past week, The Cornell Club of NY invited me to lecture on speechwriting and public speaking. I provided the group with 9 steps for writing and giving better speeches.

Do you need to prepare an important presentation? If so, I hope these 9 steps will help:

1. Focus your content. You can’t say everything in one speech. If you try to say everything, the audience will probably remember nothing.

2. Understand your audience. Before you start preparing: Get a list of the organizations that have registered and include material that’s relevant to them. The day of the presentation: Arrive early and introduce yourself to individuals in the audience.

3. Use a variety of research. Not just statistics, but quotations, examples, anecdotes, news headlines, personal stories, endorsements, etc.

4. Organize your material so it’s easy for the audience to follow.

5. Write your material so it’s easy for the audience to understand. (Don’t say “at this particularly juncture in time.” Say “now.”)

6. Give your presentation some style. As advertising genius David Ogilvy once said, “Nobody ever sold anybody anything by boring them to death.”

7. Be careful with humor. When in doubt, leave it out.

8. Improve your delivery. With each presentation, focus on one specific area you need to improve: eye contact, smiles, body language, vocal techniques. Keep at it. There’s always room for improvement.

9. Pay attention to the media coverage your speech might generate. Ignore social media at your own peril.

To learn more, read the 30th anniversary edition of HOW TO WRITE & GIVE A SPEECH (St. Martin’s Press, March 2014) … “A how-to classic” (The Washington Post) 

How to amp up your online authority: from Square 2 Marketing

5 Ways To Build Your Online Authority

You may have an online presence, but is it an authoritative one? Are your social media posts resonating with the right audience?

Do you focus on talking about the problems and solutions your prospective   customers care about?

Practicing thought leadership in your industry helps to establish trust and authority in a highly targeted market. By creating an online authority, you’re conducting the most relevant online dialogue that your customers are searching for.

To learn more, contact Eric Keiles


How to use humor in international speeches

I just finished reading The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny (by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner).

If you write speeches for a living, this book provides useful observations about humor.

If you present internationally, this book provides invaluable insights about the humor that works (or doesn’t work) in:

* Japan

* Scandinavia

* Palestine

* Tanzania

* Montreal

* New York

* Los Angeles

Don’t miss the chapter entitled The Amazon: Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

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