Tag Archives: secret of great speeches

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…