How to Deliver a Speech that Inspires

There is a fantastic article written in INC Magazine called “How to Deliver a Speech that Gets a Standing Ovation” It provided some great insight. The most important tip I can give is to Get Personal.  All great speakers will tell personal stories.  The way to tell if you have given a great personal speech is if you walk off the stage and you think to yourself “I can’t believe I told them that”

So what can you do to make a speech that spurs your audience to similar applause and admiration?

Get personal. Rebecca MacDonald told her life story—and didn’t spare the details. First, MacDonald credited her upbringing in a socialist system as fundamental to her mindset that “women can do anything men can do’. Then she shared that her husband’s initial skepticism about her launching a Canadian natural gas resale business was a catalyst that spurred her on. “If he didn’t say, ‘Are you insane?’ I wouldn’t be standing here,’ MacDonald said, smiling. When she landed her first customer and sought gas supply, but was thrown out of the Toronto Petroleum Club because she was a woman, MacDonald added: “I didn’t want to face my husband. I didn’t want him to say, ‘I told you so’.’ Once her business started to take off, MacDonald’s husband came to her to suggest, “Darlink, let’s merge,’ recalled MacDonald, with an accent. But MacDonald would only do so if he’d work for her. In 1992, after he helped expand her company into a new market, MacDonald’s husband was killed in a car crash. “That changed me forever,’ MacDonald confided.

Be honest. When asked about her upbringing, MacDonald admitted she had a very strict and dominant mother. “I ran away from my mother,’ she said. “I probably wouldn’t have survived her if I hadn’t moved to Canada,’ and then revealed that her sister committed suicide. “My mother prepared me for life.’

Tell jokes. Although she touched on such intimate and serious subjects, MacDonald managed to keep the overall tone of her talk light and humorous. “Sometimes we get bitchy and catty,’ she admitted, describing one drawback of women. She also spoke of a time her son told a friend visiting their home: “My mom’s actually nice and friendly—she just has cash flow problems.’ Early on, she mentioned that after her husband died she devoted her life to her work and two children. But before she wrapped up her speech last week MacDonald was sure to announce to anymen attending, “I’m single and I’m available.’

Talk to your audience. Whether it was the serendipitous drink that turned into her first supplier relationship, becoming the first woman to take a company public in Canada—or the bout of rheumatoid arthritis that nearly kept her bed-ridden while doing so—throughout her speech, MacDonald related her business and life experiences to the particular crowd she was speaking before: entrepreneurial women.

Act as if each attendee is the only one. She invited the conference-goers to call her any time. She offered up her phone number (it’s on the Just Energy website) and availability (after hours). “I always answer the phone for a woman,’ MacDonald said.

Forget notes, visuals or a PowerPoint presentation. MacDonald held our attention for more than an hour—just by being herself—and without relying on ancillary or distracting materials.

End on a high note. MacDonald wouldn’t get off the podium until she could respond to a question with an uplifting final answer—even if it meant risking missing her flight home to Toronto, where she was due at 5 a.m. the following morning to watch the royal wedding over champagne and biscuits with girlfriends.


Keeping Presentations Simple

When it comes to presentations often times we think more is better. This is not the case. By sticking to a simple outline you will have much greater success with your audience.  May I suggest a few ideas that I found in a book called Made to Stick? This book contains a simple outline that keeps your ideas and presentations quick and to the point.  Remember most audiences will forget what you presented to them within 10 minutes after especially if you bombard them with too much stuff, but the feeling can stay forever.  Here is the outline

1.  Simple: Strip the idea to its core and bring out the most important concept of your presentation.  They call it “finding the core.”

2.  Unexpected: Do something that the audience does not expect.  Get creative and think of a special way you can get the audiences attention.

3. Emotional:  Get their emotions involved any way possible.  Tony Robbins is great at doing this.  We all love to be inspired!   Know what your audience is going through and cater to their needs.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Your audience has given you an open ear so you need to make it worth their time. (Let me add a quick note about swearing.  Profanity is  a huge turn off when presenting. I have seen a lot of great speakers use bad language to get the audience to laugh.  Donald Trump does this, and it kills him.) A good smile and a great story will get you a lot farther.

4.  Stories:  A great way to get your audience’s emotions turning is to tell good stories.  Unexpected stories.  Stories that relate to your audience.  I personally like to tell personal stories to let the audience know that I am human and relate to their circumstance.

There you have it.  The next time you are writing, presenting, or selling use this simple outline and you will get the success you are looking for