The Keynote

Sometimes as a speaker you maybe asked to do a keynote speech, this can be anything from a 20 minute speech to an hour or sometimes longer . This can be used to address say a business conference or even a charity based conference .

If you are addressing a conference make sure you go to the workshop if they are over the course of the day or days. This way you can get a feel for how the company are doing things and talk to the staff during the course of the days events.

Speaking to staff or volunteer’s if its a charity you can use this in your speech , ask the person if you can quote them in a positive way during your keynote address , this will help keep you current and give you a better rapport with the audience , which can only make your speeches message even stronger .

Writing the keynote is of course longer using graphics will or can come into your speech to enhance your speech , which also can be used in a humours or directional sense to help guide the audience during the keynote , it also breaks the speech up in parts .

The use of notes or a cheat note which you could post on the side of the stage on a A4 page with anchor points to guide you as a speaker along the way and of course not lose your way during the speech. A keynote can and still be used in a strong way to help guide , inspire and give your audience something to take away from the conference, as ever make your speech memorable .

You can do the keynote!

Accepting feedback

As speaker we should always be open to receiving feedback because how do we know if we have levelled off or our speech didn’t make the mark that we thought it did? By receiving feedback we can then sit down and have a serious look at if our speech was a success or they maybe aspects of our delivery that we need to work on.

The first thing you have to do is be honest with yourself, you should know by the audience reaction if parts of your speech got a fair, decent or not a great response . If parts didn’t work don’t beat yourself up, you need to pick yourself up and work it out why that part of your speech didn’t really work. The main thing to look at is as ever who were your audience ? where you accurate with your facts? did your speech have a good flow or was the structure needing adjusted in a way that’s easier to understand ?

Sometimes it can be the simplest detail in your speech that’s needing change , I did a speech once about “Creating a good media presence” my feedback was I didn’t link some of the facts enough. The second time I delivered the speech I made the information easier to follow with easy links between each section .

The major turning point as a speaker can be for you to accept that you can embrace the feedback to help you improve you as a speaker , improve your deliver and give you the tools to deliver a stronger message to your audience , which is a key factor in any speech , so feedback take it on board but don’t lose any sleep over it , don’t dwell on it , learn from it .

Listen and learn

The Corporate message

Doing a speech for your workplace or company can seem daunting at the best of time because this is a speech in front of your peers who actually know you really well in most cases. Unless you are being hired as a speaker and don’t work for the company which means you still have to deliver the companies message , which you can do in a slightly different way.

Your speech can still have humour either about yourself or some of the struggles that you have had within the company to say in delivering some of the tasks involved in your workplace, still you don’t insult or bring your company into disrepute , you can be subtle in your delivery .

This type of speech as any you need to know your audience in this case you will, you may need to use some jargon if you can avoid using too much jargon this can be better and less boring in the over all delivery of the companies message .

Researching the company especially if you are being hired as a speaker is key you can then identify with the audience in a closer way, equally if you work for the company its worth looking into the companies history as a lot of people wont really know , also you can speak to staff in other departments and find out what they do within the company , you can use this in part of the speech to make them feel really important as you praise there work within your speech.

Finally its worth a liaison with your boss to make sure your conclusion is delivering the companies message , yet you can do this in an inspiring , motivational and strong way in your own words without taking away as a speaker the structure and delivery that you want . At the end of the day you want you speech to be memorable .

Old school vs new school public speaking .

The old school of public speaking was an oratory type skill of speaking or an almost fire and brimstone type of delivery to have you on the end of your seat. Guys like Les Brown had this type of delivery in the early years but has changed his style a bit since then, these speakers with booming voices can be formable in delivery terms , also entertaining to watch with powerful body language which can enhance the speech.

Taking nothing away from the old school speakers which I actually love because we can still learn a lot from the way there speeches were structured , delivered and received by the actual audience is not to be scoffed at because there is a powerful undertone of the message delivery with a ultimate call to action which is the bare bones of this type of speaking .

The new style of public speaking is mainly down to story telling which really isn’t that new on reflection its just a more conversation based style of delivery to the audience . The audience are led to thinking “is the speaker speaking to me directly “? this is a skill in itself to speak to your audience in this way, without being too monotone in your delivery .

There is still scope to have vocal variety in your voice , showing your passion and emotion with your subject matter , this will help your audience as a speaker to relate to you even more, this is one of the major keys to public speaking , being relative , being current, yet being creative enough in your structure to make your life story work and count .

With the added things that we can take from the old school speaker and add to our own skill set which can and will make you a better speaker without the fire and brimstone , the only fire you will share is your passion , compassion , empathy for your fellow man in this case being your audience .

Speaking with passion

One of the easier things to speak about is of course a subject that interest you as an individual this could be a hobby or pastime or the sport that we either watch or participate in , within that these experiences and memories can lead to amazing speeches .

The passion can come from the fact that actually you were there you felt the experience ,you felt the pain if say you had ran a marathon? This can lead to you giving a more descriptive picture in your speech, you can use this to your advantage and ask the audience ” How painful is it when you start running” or after a few weeks you can ask “I am starting to fly as I get fitter”

Turning the negative into the positive drawing from your experience , can be used to motivate inspire and relate to your audience in a much stronger way than before , this can enhance your speech in a more structured way , equally you have a better chance to get your message across in your conclusion .

Never be scared to talk about your passion in life yet always take in to account who your audience will be which is one of the golden rules as a speaker , if your audience is like minded then even better they will relish your speech and feel the passion of your hobby or pastime , most of all enjoy yourself sharing your thoughts and passions on your topic.

Why do we need a mentor?

The need for a mentor is especially important if you want to get better at public speaking. We all feel sometimes that we have hit a plateau or hit a wall? we feel that we maybe lack the skills that we need to reach the higher level.

A mentor needs to be at a higher level to give you the knowledge and the foresight in adding to your development as a speaker , a outside view can give you a better insight to why your feel your speaking has levelled off , because mentor have been through what you are experiencing at that moment or in simple terms made the same mistakes.

A mentor must also be a good listener and listen to what issues you have in terms of your development , listening to where your issue are and helping you through the learning curve that you need .Listening to your speech is not always enough being fair and constructive is the sign of a good mentor.

Choosing the right mentor for you is key , ask around for recommendations that this person is good to work with, please note I don’t say easy , you need to also be prepared to take some criticisms along the way too, if you feel that person has a good speaking pedigree and you can afford there costs in some cases then go ahead .

Getting to the next level is not easy , its extremely difficult to get there on your own without any help or direction .Never be afraid to ask for help I like to believe that some where along the line you too can help someone out and be there mentor.

if you need help just ask!

How do I improve as a speaker?

Even the most established speakers are still looking to improve there speech craft from major points to the smallest points of there skill set and how they can improve there over all delivery for there next speech , you too can use this in your development.

So where do you start ? you have to be honest with yourself to start with , if your vocals are not the best , you can either practice your vocal range or even go to a voice coach or singing coach to help improve your voice , also this will help to improve your breathing when you speak and can give you more vocal power .

Simply filming your speeches and looking at how your body language is during your speech is a great way to see if your movement is in synch with what your saying, and if you are creating the right message with non verbal communication.

What you must not do Is try to improve everything in the one speech , this will just distract you .What I tend to do is look at one aspect to improve a bit like the cyclist use the 1% improvement, if its your vocals , just concentrate on that one particular weakness and still be focused on your speech delivery .

These small tips can help you but never beat yourself up on your mistakes , you do get better with practice all those 1% do add to continued improvement , that’s the way forward for any speaker to get better, get in tune with there audience and most of all have fun on stage .

How do I prepare to speak?

proper preparation can make or break your speech, by being unprepared will not give you a great speech delivery and possibly your speech’s will not have the impact on your audience that you imagined or wanted to have.

So how do I prepare ? there are a few things you can do before you actually get on stage to delivery that all important speech. The first thing you do after you write your speech is to practice, practice and practice !

Video your speech with your laptop or phone have a look what works in the speech and what doesn’t this will give you time to change anything in the structure you may see once you see it on video , although the sound quality on these devices are not too great you also can see and hear your tonality , vocal range and pitch in the speech .

The use of the anchor system and memory palace where you use pictures to remember part of the structure for example i was speaking about batman who first appeared in 1939 , I had the picture of a 2nd world war book with 1939 on the cover with a picture of batman of the cover , you can use pictures and these anchor points so if you don’t use notes you wont loose your flow .

The internalization of a speech as mention above is a well know tested method you can memorized word for word yet if you loose you way? what’s the next word? by dividing the speech into chunks with your anchor points you will always stay on track .

Checking your venue before your speech will put your mind at rest if you can get there early and familiarize yourself with the stage the building , you wont feel strange on stage because you know how the venue looks and feels this will only relax you as a speaker .

The last thing is dress for the gig if its a corporate event guys wear a shirt and tie , ladies dress smart like ladies office type wear to look professional , first impression can mean a lot if you look smart you can speak smart also, however if your speaking at a say a youth event you could probably dress more casual .

These are simple tips for your preparation always get lots of practice , be confident , most of all enjoy yourself on stage if you have done all the hard work it will pay off , you are allowed to smile on stage and the audience will warm to this so a few deep breaths , walk on stage , smile and deliver with confidence .

Speaking off the cuff!

Speaking off the cuff or giving an impromptu answer can seem difficult , the fear is always there to say or do the wrong thing and not want to be ridiculed in any way which would not help or self confidence .

However there is a simple strategy that we can all use to overcome this fear of “speaking off the cuff” the first thing you can do is too take a pause even before you answer the question , don’t just jump in right away. This can also be balanced with a breath to not only calm you down this also relaxes you before you speak, the audience also see that you are taking the time to answer there questions .

The brain is a amazing tool there is always a connection with your experiences in life to draw on , you can also go with your internal gut reaction yet keep it positive without going off in tangents stay focused on what you are saying.

A common technique used in impromptu speaking is the F.A. T this is a simple structuring technique that is easy to use and helps keep on on track when you start to speak on any subject that may come up .

So what is F.A.T F= Feeling or how you feel about the subject you are speaking about

A = Anecdote tell a story that your audience , the funnier the better

T = Tie back where you link your story

Again you can use emotion and tone to tell your story if its sad or heighten the tone if its a fast moving or funny story use all the tools in your speaking arsenal even if your speaking off the cuff , you can still make a impact in just a few minutes , good luck with the impromptu speaking always remember to have fun with it!

Simple speech structure

Writing your speech is your starting point yet when you start to read it out or give it a practise run the speech doesn’t make sense , or your story is disjointed and doesn’t make sense .Similar to a writer your speech simply has to have a beginning, middle and a ending .

However the simple way of structure in a speech is to have a introduction line to let your audience know what you are going to speak about something like ” Today I am going to speak to you about “How marathon running changed my life” rather that say your name again as you will be all ready introduced which you can arrange before hand .

A simple three main points as parts of you speech must have a flow or chronological timeline of events if its a story based speech not jumping back and forth , your first part could be as a teen i took up fitness, second part could be i began marathon running in my 20s and 30s , the third part you could add I stopped running to look after my children thus taking running up again as a charity fundraiser .

Your conclusion should link up with your introduction as you can say how much marathon running has changed your life and the fulfilment that its brought to your life , telling the audience that the money raised for charity has changed life’s. Finally your conclusion can have a call to action point , asking the audience to join you in raising funds for charity.

A conclusion should be strong and memorable finally getting your message across in whatever subject that you are speaking about , you have to ask yourself as a speaker if i was in the audience would this message make sense ? would i remember what the speak said many days later ?

Most of all to inspire you must have self belief in what you say , deliver your speech with passion the audience will hear this in the tone of your voice that marathon running did truly change your life and that you can change your life for the better , so why not get your running shoes on and start not tomorrow or next week but today