Tag Archives: great orators

Lost Art of Great Speech– Power of Oratory, Words Move People: Don’t Under-Estimate the Power of a Speech…

The power of a great speech is undeniable… Words can move people to risk life, shed tears, laugh out loud, recommit to virtue, feel patriotic… By weaving and spinning words into a well-crafted speech, a person can wield an almost god-like power… According to Richard Dowis; persons don’t have to possess– loud sonorous voice, or pearly white smile, or wild, charismatic stage presence to give great speech; all the fancy packaging and confidence in the world is rendered useless if speech itself is illogical, boring, poorly conceived…

What ultimately stays with an audience long after the event is over– is the content of what is said… A great speech is about the audience; establishing rapport, common ground, trust, such that; the message is– interesting, relevant, inspiring, e.g.; John F. Kennedy’s memorable speech in Berlin at the height of the cold war; ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ (‘I am Berliner’), which expressed solidarity (however symbolic) with the audience…

There are no big ‘secrets’ in preparing a great speech, only proven techniques that makes the speech– interesting, meaningful, dramatic, e.g.; the ‘rule of three’ used by speechwriters as a  rhetorical device where ideas are grouped in ‘3s’ which makes them more memorable; plus it adds drama, interest, rhythm to a speech, e.g.;

  • Abraham Lincoln: [T]hat a government– of the people, by the people, for the people–  shall not perish…
  • Julius Caesar: Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)…
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt: I see one-third of a nation– ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished…

In the article Inspiring Speeches in Business by zillidy writes: What makes people successful? Some business leaders are inspired by people telling them they can’t do something (negative motivation)… Some find inspiration in solving big problems (sense of accomplishment). Others find motivation and inspiration in words that are well-crafted into a great speech (positive reinforcement)… Here are brief excerpts from three inspiring speeches:

  • JK Rowling’s ‘Harvard Commencement Speech’ was about dealing with failure: She said: Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default…
  • Steve Jobs’ ‘2005 Stanford Commencement Speech’ was inspiring, yet helpful speech about– keeping focus… He said: You have to trust in something– your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever; because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference…
  • Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘TED Speech’– was about too few women leaders and inspiring women to do more… She said: Don’t leave before you leave. Stay in. Keep your foot on the gas pedal until the very day you need to leave […] Don’t make decisions too far in advance…

In the article Give a Good Speech by Paul Shoebottom writes: Every good speech has two main aspects: ‘What’ you say (content): ‘How’  you say it (delivery)… But the most important parts of a speech are; ‘the beginning’ and ‘the end’: A strong first sentence captures the attention of the audience… And a strong last sentence– makes them laugh or gives them something provocative to think about… Golden Rule 1– ‘Keep it short and simple’: Keep sentences short, grammar simple, and don’t get diarrhea of the month and ramble aimlessly… stay focused on the message! Golden Rule 2– Use ‘rule of 3’, the human brain responds to things that come in ‘3s’…

Golden rule 3: Metaphors make great speech openers, because they– surprise, conjure images, appeal to emotions… According to Anne Miller; speaking without metaphors is like running marathon barefoot. Yes you can finish the race but not without pain… Metaphors surprise the audience– it’s something other than what is expected, but also link the metaphoric to the message… A great speech– lifts hearts in dark times, gives hope in times of despair, inspires courage, honors the dead, changes the course of history… Great speakers have three components: Style, Substance, Impact…

But the fact of the matter is that most people hate to give a speech… Most  people (i.e., leaders) would rather hide than get-up in front of a group and give a speech… But an ability to craft, deliver a great speech is very important for leaders’ effective communications… According to Portent; here are few tips that might help:

First remember– different people listen at different speeds, but you are only speaking at one speed. That means you are not ‘getting through’ to 66% of the audience, and frankly you run risk of annoying a lot of other people, as well… Remember not everyone processes information the same way… some people prefer to hear a speaker talk quite fast, others prefer a speaker talk quite slowly, and still others prefer a more medium voice speed… Hence varying voice speed periodically during the speech ensures you reach all listening types in the room.

Generally each person in the audience cares about one of the following; ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘how’, or ‘what-if’ information ahead of all else… For example, ‘why’ people want to hear about ‘what’ and ‘how’, but they badly need to know ‘why’ they should care, because all of ‘what’ and ‘how’ information will have no purpose, no meaning, no context… Similarly, ‘what’ people want the data and facts, and are less interested in the big picture or exactly how to use the data. The ‘how’ people want to know ‘how’ to make things work; they don’t much care about context or the raw data…

The speech structure should include data & facts for ‘what’ people; steps and procedures for ‘how’ people; and big picture context for ‘why’ people, and simple Q&A covers ‘what-if’ people… Always start with ‘why’ it sets context, since ‘how’, ‘what’ people don’t mind waiting through that. As for visual slides; scale way, way back on visuals and  only put 2 kinds of things on a slide:

  • Something that will visually explain something that otherwise would take many words to explain, e.g.; chart, graph, photo, image…
  • What you absolutely want the audience to remember: Repeat– Only, what you absolutely want the audience to remember...

A great speech must have a single, concise, clear call to action– one and only one thing… A great speech can launch a decade-long quest for man on the moon, or inspire people to compete for a prize, or find new ways to make processes more efficient… A great speech throws down the gauntlet to find new solutions to difficult problems, or conveys an inspirational and motivational sentiment… A great speech can change the world…

Make a Great Speech– Electrify Your Audience, Make It Memorable: Great Speech– Persuade, Inspire, Inform…

What makes a great speech? Some people would prefer to dive over a cliff than make a speech. They conjure up all kinds of nightmare scenarios as a result of their stage fright: What if I freeze? What if the audience hates me?

And yet, by learning a few public speaking strategies and techniques used by professional speakers– who are very often the most scared of all– you can not only conquer nerves and fear, but you can also make a powerful impression and within seconds, actually start to enjoy the experience…

Ancient literature is full of advice to would-be orators dealing with everything from how to move your hands, when to make a joke, to the rhythms, cadences and structures of effective oratory… According to David McCloud; great speeches are primarily emotional, not logical. Small shifts in tone and phrasing make an enormous difference to the audience, so sweat the details; great speech has clear voice speaking throughout; great speech conveys only one idea, although it has many supporting points. And most of all, great speech answers a great need…

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The five secrets for a great speech are:  • Great speeches are primarily emotional, not logical • Small shifts in tone make an enormous difference to the audience, so sweat the details • A great speech has a clear voice speaking throughout • A great speech conveys one idea only, although it has many supporting points • A great speech answers a great need… According to drjim; most people will never have the opportunity to move the hearts and minds of billions of people like Gandhi did. We also may never have an opportunity to rally a nation to a single purpose (voyage to the moon) like John F. Kennedy did. However, as a speaker you have an obligation to try to connect with the audiences like they did…

In the article Electrify Your Audience with a Shocking Speech Opening by Andrew Dluganw writes: A strong speech opening is critical to grab the attention of the audience, for example; suppose you were delivering a speech to raise awareness in your community about school security: How would you open your speech? Consider that you might begin with the statement: I’m going to talk to you today about security in our schools… or, School security is an important issue that we must deal with… Both openings are direct, to-the-point, and boring! Whereas, great speakers know how to open a speech in a way that hooks the audience into the presentation immediately…

A strong ‘opening’ is one of the essential skills for public speakers. There are many ways to do this, including; the use of– drama and misdirection… Imagine opening your speech with the following lines: ‘Tobacco. [long pause] Alcohol. [long pause] Guns. [long pause], these are Criminal items seized in a search [slight pause] of a 6th grade locker in our school districtIn this example you are adding drama and surprise to grab the audience early– you begin with a strong, opening and keep going… Opening a speech with strong statement generates interest for several reasons:

  • Employs a classical technique: Rule of Three.
  • Seized in a search of a sixth: Uses alliteration.
  • Pauses after the three opening words: Adds drama.
  • Drama is also created because the danger increases with each item (i.e. guns, alcohol, tobacco…)
  • Mid-sentence pause after ‘search’ signals an important statement that’s coming up.
  • Audience may think these items were seized from some outside criminal element, but then surprised to learn they were found in your school locker.

How to Open Speech or Presentation: There are a number of  effective ways to open a speech or presentation.  Here are four:

  • Quote: Name a topic, any topic; and more often than not there is a great quote or saying that suits the subject matter perfectly…
  • ‘What If’ Scenario – Drawing the audience into your presentation is important and doing it immediately works wonders. Getting the audience thinking right away by painting a ‘scenario’ is very effective…
  • ‘Imagine’ Scenario: Putting audience members directly into the presentation by allowing each member to ‘visualize a scenario’ is a great tool…
  • Question: Rhetorical or literal; When someone is posed with a question, whether an answer is called for or not, that person intuitively answers, even it’s only in their mind; and now that person is involved…

speech aristotle-communication

In the article How to Give a Good Speech by Paul Shoebottom writes: Every speech or presentation has two main aspects: ‘What’ you say (content). ‘How’ you say it (delivery). Obviously, you have control over the content, because you can plan out exactly what you want to say. But, you can also do a lot to make sure your delivery is effective too. The advice that follows will help you deliver a powerful speech:

  • Audiences usually only has one chance to understand what you are saying: So, make it easy for them to follow your ideas…
  • Signpost your speech: At the beginning, say how your speech is organized. During the speech, make it clear when one part is finished and the next part begins...
  • Most important parts of a speech are; ‘the beginning’ and ‘the end’: A strong first sentence will capture the attention of the audience… a strong last sentence that will either; make them laugh or give them something provocative to think about…
  • Practice; Speak loudly, clearly, distinctly, and include visuals when appropriate… Be prepared for distractions and strange questions… and stay focused…

Some tips:

  • KISS: Golden rule– ‘Keep It Short and Simple’ really does apply. Keep sentences short, grammar simple. Not only is this more powerful than long rambling prose, but you’re more likely to hold your audience’s attention– and, stay focused on what you’re trying to say!
  • Rule of Three: Another golden rule: The human brain responds magically to things that come in ‘threes’. Whether it’s a list of adjectives, a joke, or your main points, it’s most effective if you keep it to this structure.
  • Imagery: Metaphors, similes and description will help an audience to better understand the message and it keeps them entertained.
  • Pronouns: Use ‘we’ to create a sense of unity; ‘them’ for a common enemy; ‘you’ if you’re reaching out to the audience; and ‘I’ / ‘me’ if you want to take control.
  • Poetry: Repetition, rhyme and alliteration are sound effects, used by poets and orators alike. They make a speech more memorable. Remember to structure pauses and parentheses into a speech; it varies the flow of sound, helping to hold the audience attention.
  • Jokes: Humor is powerful; use it to perk-up a sleepy audience… Laughter is based on people having common, shared assumptions and it can, therefore, be used to persuade.
  • Key words: ‘Every’, ‘improved’, ‘natural’, ‘pure’, ‘recommended’, ‘tested’ are words, according to some surveys; that will press the right buttons and get a positive response from the audience…

In the article Great Ways to End a Speech by Matt Eventoff writes: Here are a few techniques for closing a speech or presentation:

  • Direct Call to Action: A speech or presentation without a clear call to action is a speech or presentation that probably isn’t worth giving…
  • (Very) Short Story or Anecdote: Show, don’t tell… Use a brief story or anecdote to drive a message…
  • Call-to-Question: It’s often effective to end with a rhetorical question that captures the spirit of the message and leaves the audience thinking– especially when it ties in your call to action…
  • Contrast: Effective when tied directly to the closing call to action…
  • Quote: Short, appropriate, and powerful quotes are effective as ‘openers’… also, quotes are effective as ‘closers’…

Metaphors make great speech openers, because metaphors– surprise, conjure images, appeal to emotions… According to Anne Miller; speaking without metaphors is like running a marathon barefoot. Yes, you can finish the race, but not without a certain amount of pain. Nowhere is the potential for speaking pain greater than in the opening of a talk, when you have only a few seconds to win or lose your audience’s attention …

Metaphors surprise the audience because by definition, a metaphor is something other than what is expected. It’s a stand-in for the obvious… Metaphor, simile or analogy, all conjure images and emotions and they draw you into a speaker’s narrative. The best talks reflect Aristotle’s observation– to be master of metaphor is everything… However, opening metaphors must be appropriate in tone and content for your audience and setting. Effective openers should only include enough detail to set up the point… Link the metaphoric opener to your message…

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According to Brett & Kate McKay; if you wish to become a great speaker, you must first become a student of the great speakers… You must immerse yourself in their texts, listening for the turns of phrases and textual symmetries, pauses and crescendos, the metaphors and melodies that have enabled the greatest speeches to stand the test of time. These speeches lift hearts in dark times, gave hope in despair, refined the characters of men, inspired brave feats, gave courage to the weary, honored the dead, changed the course of history… Great speakers have three components:

  • Style: A great speech must be masterfully constructed. The best speakers are masters of both the written and spoken word, and use words to create texts that are beautiful to both; hear and read…
  • Substance: A great speech must center on a worthy theme; it must appeal to and inspire the audience’s finest values and ideals…
  • Impact: A great speech always seeks to persuade the audience of some fact or idea. It changes hearts and minds and are as relevant several decades or centuries removed as when first given…

According to Rene Shimada Siegel; a memorable speech should paint vivid stories, it should be a gift from you to the audience; and, it’s not all about you… Great speeches are authentic, transparent and come straight from the heart… Pull stories from your own life and use the language you use every day. Lofty vocabulary, long compound sentences don’t inspire anyone…

Well-crafted stories are among the most powerful tools in your business arsenal…. Great speakers take time to personalize and fine-tune their delivery for maximum impact…