How to Create a Speaker’s Toolbox

You’ve got the spotlight, you’ve got the stage, you’ve got the topic

—now it’s time to pull out all the stops for a memorable keynote speech that will captivate your audience and fill them with the spirit of giving!

The pressure is on when a speaker takes the stage. For many, this can bring out the best in them, but for some it can be a time of anxiety and confusion. Don’t let the audience or the event planner down with a lackluster, disorganized speech. Instead, offer a dynamic performance with presentation tools that will leave your donors inspired to give.

Use video to further support after the event! Check out this story about how one Greater Giving client used video after an event to garner further support and get their contributors excited about donating in the future.

Belt It Out to the Back Row

Professional speakers work to perfect their voice so even the people sitting in the corner next to a busy kitchen will clearly hear their message. Follow their model with a few tips that will help you modulate your voice in a pleasing and effective way.

Exercise your breathing and voice muscles. Too many of us are used to short breath breathing due to poor posture. Practice standing up straight and breathing deeply using your diaphragm. If done correctly, you will notice your stomach moving as you inhale and exhale, rather than your shoulders and chest.

Regional dialects are fine in casual conversation, but when you are speaking to a crowd those eccentricities can get in the way of a well-prepared message. Pay attention to how you pronounce words ending in ‘ing’ like giving, funding, or working. Say them out loud. Did you pronounce them without the ‘g,’ as in workin’ v. working? Failing to enunciate the last syllable of the word can leave the impression of mumbling which will inhibit voice projection and diminish the perception of you as an expert.

Inject enthusiasm into your words. Monotone voices act as white noise so don’t be surprised to see a few people nodding off if you don’t add emphasis to your words. Let the natural moments of importance come out through the energy you provide the important points in your speech. Open up your throat and relax its muscles to make your voice “bigger” and be sure that any nervous habits, like covering your mouth, don’t hinder your efforts.

The Eyes Have It

It’s no secret that humans are visual animals, so making eye contact throughout your presentation is a great way to hold attention and provide even more information about your topic. Multi-media learning expert and educational psychologist, Dr. Richard Mayer from the University of California, Santa Barbara found that adding images and video is an incredibly effective tool in making a message stick in the mind of a listener. This method of combining more than one representation multiples the mental reinforcement and recall accuracy for a longer duration than without the use of pictures and video.

Digital slideshows are a great way to deliver bullet points, provide photographic evidence and underscore themes. Just as on a billboard, slides are meant to deliver the most fundamental points of your overall message. Keep your slideshow presentation to only a few slides by applying the recommended 10/20/30 rule, which states you should use about ten slides for a twenty-minute presentation and each slide should be in thirty-point font for clarity.

Video offers much in the way of sight, sound and engagement with audiences and today more than ever people are looking for that visual stimulation when taking in information. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them sit up and cheer! With the use of great video editing, you can amp up the drama or bring out the fun of your organization, but don’t rely on it so much that the rest of your presentation fades into the background.

Back Up Your Information

Providing concrete facts is the best way to convince others to believe in your message. Lean on statistics, quotes, and studies to reinforce what you want to get across. Make sure the information is relevant, timely, and from well-respected sources, whether or not they are familiar to your audience.

Ask yourself what information would impact your audience most. Look for surprising statistics that back up what you want to express and follow it up with a real-life example from your organization to underscore its validity.

A point to remember when delivering dry statistical information is that you may need to work harder to keep your audience engaged. Strategize ways to lead them to the information by hinting at its importance; create more suspense by pausing immediately before and after the information is delivered, and use gestures and facial expression to demonstrate the magnitude of the data.

For tips on preparing your venue for your next event, view the article Think Like an Event Planner

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back for Great Editing

Editing for a speech can be about content, timing or style. Developing an editing process that focuses on each of these elements individually will predict how well your speech comes together as an “end product.”

First, write it; then let it rest. Give your mind time away from your original draft before you dive into editing. This will give fresh eyes to look at it with more clarity and objectivity so you can brace up the weaker points and drawback on the drama where it’s overdone.

Second, examine the content. Do you have all that you want in the speech? Does it explain your message clearly and concisely? Step back and ask the more general questions, such as does it stray from the original goal, is it appropriately organized, is the style and language on target, and is the grammar correct. Check for accuracy with your data and be aware of the link between your message and every metaphor, analogy, quote, stat, and illustration that’s included— especially at humorous points where it’s easy to get caught up in the levity and misrepresent your data.

Speechwriting is a skill that can be acquired. Working with the time-tested tools found in a speaker’s toolbox will help you hone your skills so you can deliver a memorable speech that will inspire your audience to reach your goals right along with you!

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