After speaking for many years and writing speeches for many, I have learned that a good speech is one that touches the audience. Sure, knowing who your audience is helps, and knowing the space does too. But then again those are tips you would find in any public speaking manual. For me, I learned from Toastmasters that speaking to impact others goes a few levels deeper than that.
1: I learned that it is important to add value to the people listening to me. After all, they respected my time and came to listen so I must respect theirs. While, in the past, I used to pride myself on my ability to just stand and speak, now I actually do put a lot of thought in what I am saying.
2: I also learned that the subject doesn’t have to be complicated. I personally don’t talk about things that need too much research. I keep things light and simple. I just go for simple words with a big idea.
3: This next one, I am still struggling with but I do also see the value in going personal. While I will not be the speaker crying before an audience, or talking about my heartbreaks, loses, or failures, I do admire people who can do that. The more personal you can go, the more audience you can reach. Lately, I am experimenting with the idea of going personal. I’m getting better at it, but I still get a rush of self doubt before every speech and I do ask myself if I really want the audience to know about me too much. However, if the subject is too difficult to talk about I skip it and if it is too dramatic I don’t even go for it. After all, there is a fine line between honesty and melodrama.
4: With that being said, I learned to be myself, to be open and to speak the way I would speak every day. There is no reason to copy anyone else. If people wanted to hear the person we are choosing to imitate then they would have listened to him or her. No two people can have the same styles of speaking because no two people are the same. I found my style of writing and my style of writing and I use them that’s just the way I am.
Most importantly I learned to be honest when I am saying anything to anyone because no one can add real value to people if they are faking it or lying. At the end, public speaking is like life if you are not all in, you won’t win and if you are not honest you don’t reach anyone.
Every time we give a speech it is like we are making an investment, either people love it or hate it. The more we put into it the higher the stakes . The more we risk in it, the more the loses or gains. It really is that simple.