By Bob Garner
A short, pudgy man walked up to the microphone and, despite an obvious lisp, began to speak. By the end of his speech, he had won the minds, hearts, and eyes of his audience. This man, according to President John F. Kennedy, “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” The man was Winston Churchill.
While the goal of your speech may be different from Churchill’s, your battle to win the minds, hearts, and eyes of your audience is not. If you want your message to be heard, inspire people to action, or believe in your goal, you must win the battle for their minds through the words you choose. You must win their hearts through how you make them feel and win their eyes through how they perceive you as a communicator and leader. The best leaders are the most effective communicators and understand the importance of winning the aforementioned battle at the podium.
Here are a few tips to help you speak like a leader:
1. Never “Wing” It: By “winging” your speech, you risk boring your audience and being perceived as an ill-prepared, ineffective leader. There’s not a single effective speaker who wings it.
2. Write It Out: Create an outline that focuses on a theme and three main points that support that theme. Write out your entire speech. Repeat your three main points throughout your presentation. The audience won’t remember a point only said once.
3. Cut: Speak no more than 20 minutes. The longer you speak, the less impact your message and presence have on your audience.
4. Stories And Quotes: Stories are powerful speaking tools. A good story grabs and holds the imagination of the listener. Use a story at the beginning of your speech, and refer to it at the end. This helps cement your overall message. Use a few stories throughout your speech to accentuate points. Use quotes only from people your audience will recognize. Most importantly, all stories and quotes must tie back to a point.
5. Rehearse: Effective speakers thoroughly rehearse their speeches. Rehearse in front of a mirror, or film yourself and review for problems.
6. On-Site: Light the stage like it will be lit when you deliver your speech, and rehearse your speech on-site. Called “owning the room,” this allows you to get familiar with your surroundings. Don’t “walk through” your speech; do your whole speech. Know your entrance and exit points and what music, if any, will be played for your walk-on and walk-off.
7. Connect: Never read your speech. Connect with your audience by looking at them while you speak. If you rehearsed, you should be able to walk away from the podium, which aids in engaging the audience. If using a teleprompter, keep your written speech or notes on the podium.
A professional speaker with clients worldwide, Bob Garner knows how to engage, empower, and entertain an audience. His written works include a collaboration with Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard. www.bobgarneronline.com