I love speaking about speaking. Here is an excerpt of a presentation I gave on speaking skills at the Third International Toastmasters Conference.
“It never ceases to amaze me that intelligent, well educated, and ambitious people frequently overlook developing the number one skill that is guaranteed to position them ahead of the crowd, namely the ability to stand up and speak eloquently with confidence – or at the very least, stagger to their feet and say anything at all.
As Toastmasters, we are committed to be competent communicators. But I maintain, however, even the most dedicated Toastmaster can even more effectively prepare and present powerful programs by understanding in depth the three necessary ingredients that go into every presentation. What I call “million-dollar words, speaking for results.”
Those three ingredients: the structure, the foundation, the organization of how you put your remarks together; the material, what it is you actually say, your knowledge, your wisdom; and third, of course, the delivery, how you say it. I maintain if you do not know what you are going to say, organized in a logical way – so you and your audience can remember, it’s very difficult to work on the pizzaz, how you say it – so much of how we emotionally connect with our audiences.
Now, just because I gave you a structure and a formula, please do not think for one moment that every speech is the same. There are so many theatrical choices within this outline. How about four different ways you can open the speech? What I opened with was a statement, “It never ceases to amaze me…” One of the most dramatic statements I ever heard – five years ago I was speaking for Young President’s Organization and one of the other speakers, Newt Gingrich, walks out. Forget politics. It was a heck of an opening. Five years later, I remember exactly what he said without writing it down. He walked out and said, “If you were born today, you would already own $186,000 to pay your share of the national debt.” Wow. But again, I challenge you. Think of an audience that heard you speak five years ago, would they remember your opening.?
How about opening with a quote? As the great philosopher Raquel Welch said, “Style is being yourself, but on purpose.” Every time you stand up to address an audience you have to be yourself, but slightly larger than life; in other words, on purpose. Now notice in opening with a quote what I did not do was say, “I would like to start my speech with a quote. And I am going to quote a movie star for dramatic, comic affect.” No. No. No. Just deliver the quote. Just do it. Edit to the nub.
You could start with a bold claim. “In the next 45 minutes, I’m going to teach you more about speaking than you could learn in a college course.” If you start your speech with a bold claim, make sure you can follow through. Don’t promise something you can’t do.
Of course, one of the favorite ways to start a speech is with a story. But the story always has to tie into what you are talking about, you or the situation that you’re in. Let’s pretend I started this speech with a story. So give me short applause and I’ll start again. “Here’s Patricia Fripp to speak….” “I hope you like conferences as much as I do. Of course I spend my life at them. A few years ago, 27 other speakers and myself were in San Diego for a meeting. After the meeting we go out to dinner and after dinner we decide we’d like ice cream. So we turn up at Baskin Robbins, exactly 9:00 p.m. when the manager was turning around the closed sign. Well, you could tell he was the manager, 16 years old, a little white jacket and a cap. One of my pals gets out, knocks on the door, says, ‘Excuse me, 28 people for ice cream, 10 minutes work.’
Kid says, ‘Sir, we’ve closed.’
My friend looks through the glass door, sees two other kids, thinks, well, three kids working for minimum wage, we’ll make them an offer. He said, “$30 for you three and the sale of 28 ice creams.” They huddled; a focus group to study the problem.
The kid comes back and said, “Could you make it $40?”
We settle on $30, but being sales trainers we really appreciated that he tried to get more. That young man realized two things I don’t want you to ever forget. One, life is a series of sales situations. And two, the answer is ‘no’ if you don’t ask.
And we are here this evening selling you on the concept that even the most dedicated Toastmasters can even be more effective in preparing and presenting powerful programs by understanding the three necessary ingredients in depth that belong in a presentation.”
Find out when I am “speaking about speaking” in your area. For my “open to the public” seminars, workshops, speaking schools, presentations, teleseminars and other events visit: https://fripp.com/public-speaking-events/
As an executive speech coach, I simplify and demystify the process of designing a presentation for anyone who needs to speak in public. Executives, sales teams, and even professional speakers can transform their presentations from both a content and delivery standpoint. For more information on executive speech coaching visit: https://fripp.com/speech-coaching/