Monthly Archives: December 2016

How to write a speech

Your perfect presentation

 

How to write the perfect 10 minute presentation.

Copywriting and public speaking have a lot in common and a lot to offer each other. Listening to a good speech can teach you so much about writing and vice versa and as some one who gave my first presentation nearly 30 years ago, I’m still humbled by what I learn from listening to other speakers.

Some people undoubtedly have a gift for public speaking but even if you haven’t, you can still rock the socks of your 10 minute business presentation with some careful planning and a bit of practice. Public speaking is one of your most powerful marketing tools and a great way of showcasing your skills with no hard sell. I could write about this forever but as you haven’t got time for that, here’s my quick but super effective guide.

mic

Presentation preps and prelims 

1. If you can, visit the venue (this helps with nerves and is about being confident you know the room, the layout etc. It also helps to know how much you have to project your voice). Find out all you can about your audience. You want to fine tune your speech so that it’s relevant to them and that may mean altering your tone and your language.

Some networking events will have larger businesses attending than others for example and so if addressing them, I might adjust my language to talk about their marketing departments. Whereas smaller businesses often write their copy themselves so again, I’ll change the words I use accordingly.

2. Don’t forget to check how long you’ve got to speak and to send your host a short bio and a brief summary of your speech, with a killer headline. It’s your headline which will get bums on seats and all the usual rules apply about making it clear, intriguing and down right irresistible. You should even pop in a keyword if it’s going to be promoted online.

3. Finally, think about your speech notes. You want to use them as a support so that a quick glance at them tells you everything you need to know. I keep notes for a 10 minutes speech to one side of A4 (two at most). I use sub headings in extra large font with just a few words of prompt for each. if you prefer, try mind mapping or similar techniques. It’s all about what works for you.

be yourself

And what about you?

Just like your writing, you want your audience to be able to relate to you. That means keeping it conversational (using the word you) and being yourself. Don’t patronise or talk down to your audience whoever they are. Try and make sure your speech includes a dollop of your personality, don’t take yourself too serious and rejoice in your flaws. They’re what make you human!

Content

OK, remember this golden rule. Give your audience something they want or need to know. Think about them and the challenges they face and how you may be able to help them. We all want to showcase our skills but that will come naturally if you focus on your audience.

Then start at the end! Identify what I heard once described as your landing point! What do you want to achieve with your speech and what information do you want to give your audience? What’s the main point you want to make and you want them to remember and take away? And bear in mind, a week after a 10-minute presentation, your audience will only recall 10% of the detail. 

Don’t neglect to do lots of background research. Look for interesting statistics, quotes and authorities. It will give you confidence and adds depth and authority to your speech.

writing rules

Structure

In the beginning 

Your first sentence and the following few, are super important. This is when you will capture their attention…or not. Think carefully about how to begin! Quotes, statistics, something they’re not expecting or a bit of audience interaction can all work well.

It’s then well worth while, summarising what you’re going to be talking about. It takes a lot of effort to listen carefully to a speech, so just like your writing, the more help you can give the better!

The main body of the speech

Obviously this is where you’ll put the bulk of what you’re going to say. The rule of 3 (or at most 5) is really handy for making it memorable for your listeners and easy for you. So that means, make 3 to 5 main points.

The end

Try and conclude by bringing your speech full circle back to the beginning. Can you reference or repeat your opening line?  Or perhaps answer a rhetorical question that you asked. You want your ending to be as powerful as your opening and remember the “landing point” you planned before you started. Give your audience a clear, easy message to take away or a call to action.

how to write a speech

Style 

I sometimes write a speech out in full before I condense it into short notes. Once you’ve got the main gist of what you’ll be saying, this is the point to check for style and interest. Have you used examples to bring it alive, have you engaged your audience by asking rhetorical questions or getting them to imagine something.

Have you shown, rather than told or in other words have you used visual and descriptive language? Does it have a logical structure and flow, have you overly repeated phrases and have you used humour? Not laugh out loud funny necessarily but just gentle or subtle humour.

Practice

A good speech looks spontaneous but has probably been thoroughly rehearsed. Read yours and try it out loud. That way you can check your timing, listen for the rhythm and just make sure that it works. If you’re going to ask a friend to listen to it, choose wisely. Nonconstructive, negative feedback can do a great deal more harm than good!

 Some quirky but very useful tips

  • A valuable tip I learnt at the Association of Speakers Club is the value of a salutation before you start. Whether it’s “Ladies and gentlemen” or “Boys and girls”, by starting with a proper salutation you ground yourself and it helps make a confident and professional first impression.
  • If you are very nervous, a) don’t worry – we all are and b) clench your butt cheeks – it really helps. It also helps with your posture (and not that you need to know this, your pelvic floor – which makes it a win win in my book).
  • Acknowledge your audience’s mindset. If you think they’re expecting to be bored or are skeptical, try something like, “I know you think this is going to be another dull speech but …”
  • Don’t apologise if you forget a chunk of your speech. They don’t know what you were going to say so just carry on.
  • Listen to your audience (by looking at them) but don’t ask questions and try and avoid hecklers. Rhetorical questions are good because they don’t offer a chance to answer back.
  • Remember to make eye contact with everyone and pause occasionally. It gives your audience a chance to keep up and you time to breathe.
  • Don’t cling to the lectern or anything else. I know if I have a lectern or a pen, I’ll hang on to it like a raft in the ocean and that can be distracting. I deliberately move them out of my reach before I begin. Old court room habits die hard!

That’s it but don’t forget to enjoy it. Public speaking is a wonderful gift and a great opportunity and if you’re well prepared, you’ll find yourself loving it!

 

how to write your 1 minute pitch

How to improve your one minute pitch

speech writing Your 1-minute pitch

Let’s face it, you sit at a networking event and as everyone does their 1 minute, you either worry about what you’re going to say or the fact that your competitor is in the room. Or you’re enjoying a sense of relief, that you’ve done yours and can sit down again. Does anyone really take in what anybody else says?

So how can you make your 1 minute less painful and more memorable? The answer is actually pretty straightforward because most 1 minute pitches break the first rule of copywriting…they are all about you! Flip things on their head for a moment and it all gets a bit more interesting.

Re-writing the rules 

Many networking hosts will invite you to to, “Tell us who you are, what you do and what you’re looking for today”. In my humble opinion, that’s a bit of a bum steer. So next time you go networking have a think about the following:

Think about your audience (copywriting rule #1)

What challenges do the people in the room face that you can help with? Each networking group might be a little bit different. I know that some of the events I attend are mainly made up of solopreneurs and time is their biggest challenge. At other groups it might be technical skill. If I know what they’re struggling with, that’s what I major on.

Make it about them and focus on benefits (copywriting rule #2)

If you’ve networked with me, you’ve probably heard me say, “Let’s talk about you. Who here didn’t get round to writing that blog or newsletter you were going to write this week? Again.”

I can guarantee that as soon as I say ‘let’s talk about you’, people look up and there’s some nodding of heads. The bonus is that that means I immediately know who to go and talk to in the break!

Use stories and visual language (copywriting rule #3) 

You’ve got to try and make it memorable but not naff.  Using visual language and real life examples that they can relate to is key. An example I gave at my workshop this morning for a proofreader was:

editingImagine you’ve just written the perfect mailer or blog. It’s going off to some people you want to impress but as you hit send you realise there’s a glaring typo. Argh!! (At this point you might physically bend over to demonstrate that sick pain you get when it happens to you).  It actually hurts doesn’t it? 

Next time just ping it over to me first. It’s an affordable way to make sure you never send something out with a typo again.”

That takes well under a minute. It’s visual, memorable and straight to the point. The chances are you also have plenty of stories you can tell.

Make it conversational and lose the jargon  (copywriting rule #4) 

In my workshop this morning, everyone did a 1 minute pitch and it was interesting to see how many people slipped into third party, you know the “I help people that…”. Try and make it personal by using “you” and not too formal. Make eye contact, smile and be human and like-able.

The other interesting point that came out of this morning was what a low tolerance to jargon we have. On top of which, is the fact that there’s a very low entry point for what counts as jargon or white noise. What was perfectly clear to one speaker in her 1 minute, was not necessarily clear to the rest of us. The words used were accurate short hand for those in the industry know but didn’t explain to people outside the industry, what the concept behind the words was.

Keep it super simple. There’s a lot of information to take in at a networking event and complicated terminology or words we don’t really understand will mean we tune out.

Tweak it according to your audience (copywriting rule #5) 

smilies-1607163_1920If you go to  a networking event filled with CEO’s and larger businesses, you won’t necessarily use the same language as a local event of solopreneurs. I might talk about their over stretched marketing teams and white papers at the first, and their blogs at the second. The differences may only be small but they matter.

And what else?

Plan and practice! Everyone re-wrote their 1 minute this morning and the results were brilliant. But what was clear is that you do need to plan, prepare, practice and perfect your notes … in advance of the meeting.

Do stick to one hat (however tempting) and make sure your notes are easy to read “at a glance” so that all you have to do is to quickly look down if you forget what you’re saying.

Asking questions, giving tips or bringing something physical to show can all be very effective. You want the audience to engage with you and that’s exactly what happened this morning when everyone flipped their pitch around and made it about the audience.

Finally, we did spend a bit of time this morning talking about Aristotle and your butt cheeks. Believe it or not, both have an important role to play in your public speaking. But I’ve run out of room to deal with that in this blog, so just get in touch to find out more!